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jackie aviles 

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jackie aviles

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Back to the beginning

I'm Jackie!

Through the years, It has been my joy to write words that have captured the essence of hope in suffering. That have encouraged countless people to boldly face their seasons of struggle.


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It was February 2016. We had just started driving to Jacksonville to attend The Mingling of Souls, an amazing conference lead by Matt Chandler.


All of a sudden, I felt an excruciating pain coming from under my arm. The pain was unbearable. It lead me to feel under my arm, where I discovered 2 small lumps. This was not the first time I had felt a lump before – two months prior to that, in December of 2015, I had felt a large golf  ball size lump in my right breast area. However, because there was no pain, I went on with my life. I had been breastfeeding my youngest son, Eli, at the time and figured the lump was normal.



By the time February rolled around, that “golf ball” was so big, I could physically grab it and move it with my hands. Not to mention, I am now in severe pain from the tiny ones I felt under my arm.
Emilio and I went straight to the urgent care before hitting the road up to Jacksonville. After waiting some time, I was sent home with pain medications and a doctor’s word of, “I’m sure it’s nothing. You are so young; the lump is probably nothing. Also, your milk ducts could be inflamed due to breastfeeding. Take some pain meds and you should be OK.”

Taking the doctor’s word for it, and disregarding my “worry-wart” mind, I convinced myself it was nothing. So, Emilio and I left to Jacksonville and came back to live our everyday life. Everything went back to normal.

Or so we thought…

In the next month in half, I had seen my primary doctor and two urgent care doctors. All of them put me at ease that there was nothing serious.

On Monday, April 25th, the pain started again. My husband and I decided to go to my OBGYN for my yearly checkup. He immediately suggested I get an ultrasound.

We fought for the next 2 days to get that ultrasound approved. No one could believe or understand why a 26-year-old needed a mammogram and ultrasound done. Plus, mammograms are only given to patients 35and up. The possibility of cancer was the furthest from their minds.

After several rounds of testing, our worst nightmares came to life. On April 27th, this cancer journey began.

It’s now September 28

“I can’t believe I’m here,” were the words constantly racing through my mind as I gazed out the window into the beautiful Miami skyline of buildings! It was my new scenery for the next chapter in this cancer journey and today I was about to discuss my next steps.


I knew a double mastectomy would have to get done soon, I just couldn’t believe the time had come so quickly.

I had a knot in my throat the entire morning but pushed a smile through because, despite this, I felt so loved by my God.

Proceeding into the clean, crisp, modern white room, I shake hands with the plastic surgeon as he helps us understand the surgery process.

He explained that I would be asleep during the surgery, due to general anesthesia. Both he and my oncology surgeon would do work together during this time.

He continues by letting us know that my oncology surgeon will remove all the breast tissue by scraping the inside lining of my skin. Before closing the skin with stitches, my plastic surgeon would then place an expander in the area where my tissue was removed. (A tissue expander is an inflatable implant designed to stretch the skin and muscle to make room for a future, more permanent implant.)


Then, he attaches temporary tubes (drains) so that fluid from the wound can drain out. These drains will have to be checked every week by my plastic surgeon. He explained that I would most likely have 5 or more drains over the course of about 2-3 weeks.

Through a tiny valve mechanism located inside the expander, the nurse practitioner will periodically inject a salt-water solution to gradually fill the expander over several weeks. The needle will penetrate through the breast skin pass the muscle and into the expander. OUCH! This process will usually begin three to four weeks after my mastectomy and once my drains are removed, and will continue until recommended by the doctor to stop.


Emilio and I quietly sat as our brains were bombarded with information. I thought, “Why is this surgery even happening? I don’t need it. There’s no cancer. What’s the point?”

I just wanted to get out of that office…

It was way too overwhelming for my heart to take. Emilio rushed to my side and just kinda held me. It was quiet for a few seconds. Emilio shook his head, indicating to the doctor that we had no questions at the moment. The doctor gave me a tight hug before exiting the room.

Taking a deep breath, we gathered our things, scheduled our surgery date for October 8th at 10am and headed to Orlando for a small, very much needed, getaway.


We stayed at a good friend’s house in Orlando. One night during our trip I woke up and needed to go downstairs for some water. I couldn’t sleep and just kept thinking about my upcoming surgery. As I’m headed down the stairs, I’m super drowsy and sleepy, not to mention it’s so dark all around me.

 (For those of you who know me, you know that clumsy is a genetic gene I inherited) Lol
Anyway, I noticed little night lights all around me. I couldn’t see to the very bottom of the steps, but I could see just enough for my next step. As I descended to the bottom of the staircase, the flickering night lights gave me just enough light to see in the dark. Feeling thankful for these inexpensive little things, I reached the kitchen and got myself a nice cold glass of water.

Once I finished, I placed the glass slowly in the sink so as to not wake anyone up. I smiled, looked up and said, “OK, God. I get it!”

This was such a great picture of God telling me that I had just enough light for the next steps in this journey. You see, if God would’ve lit my path completely, then it would not have required my faith to trust in him.

I got to thinking how much would I have stumbled if those little night lights weren’t shining my every step.

It’s the same as in this dark world. Those who walk in darkness are sure, sooner or later, to stumble. But those who walk by the light of day, or by the lamp of night, will not.

The Bible says:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Ignorance is painful. It breeds indecision and suspense. But the word of God leads to

Decision

Determined resolution

And rest for the heart ❤

The word of God is like a torch in this dark world. It shows me the way and prevents me from stumbling over huge obstacles like cancer and, at this point, a double mastectomy. It helps me not to wander off into a path that can lead me to danger or turn me away from the path of life.

We all need guidance to discern what is true from what is false. By means of that guidance, you may see and shun the stumbling blocks in your way and escape falling into pits and ditches.

It is a good light to have and walk by.

This scripture verse is so full of instruction!

Shake the dust off your Bibles. Behold the light of this lamp. Make the word of God your guide today. Take your next steps in life – whatever those may be – the right way. I promise you will see clearer. Your faith will be bigger and your trust will be stronger.

I needed a perfect guide, a map for the storms of life and the Bible is that guide.

I’m writing to you today, dressed in a hospital gown and wrapped in a blanket, as I’m sitting in a cold hospital waiting room. It’s the night before my double mastectomy surgery. October 7th. And I’m completely at peace and very thankful for little night lights 😉


I am not afraid to take my next step in this journey. I can see what was unseen before in my eyes… and that is the hand of God extended for me to grab as he pulls me out of this boat and onto solid ground.

I have finally touched land… 

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