jackie aviles 

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jackie aviles

mom

The third floor & the empty chair

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 is a sweet mercy to have to go through the floods, if some filthiness may thereby be removed.

I have walked this hallway many times.

The hallway through which I walk with one hand clenched in my husband’s and  the other placed over my nose to diffuse the smell of hospital empanadas and dewy mop water.

The hallway that makes me cringe as endless stares drill into my pale skin and hairless head.

The hallway lined with chairs, filled with nurses conversing over coffee and family members grabbing a quick bite to eat before rushing back to their loved ones.

The hallway that leads me to my destination: The third floor. 

The awkward seconds go by and the elevator doors finally open.

With my ice chips in hand, I proceed to Sign In. Taking a seat in the waiting room, I am entertained by old school game shows and the nauseating taste of Dum Dums lollipops.

I am no stranger to the nurses on the third floor and by now, I can name every one of them. From the professional “hello” in the beginning of my cancer journey to the now contagious “God bless you” when I enter the room, there’s no doubt the nurses know I serve a great, big God.

I enter the room where my registered nurse begins to “plug me in”.

My teeth ache as the syringes crack open and a large, cold needle is injected into my chest where my port is located. You would think that by now I would be used to it, but nope. Every time is as if it were the first.

Thankfully, the goosebumps left on my skin from the cold, wet alcohol pad slowly diminish as warm blankets are placed over me.

Ah yes, the closest thing to heaven on the third floor: sterilized sheets straight from the warmer. 

I’m sitting in chair #5 today. Funny, because it’s been exactly 5 months since my cancer journey started.

As I’m writing, most of the patients around me are sleeping and all that stands out are blue and green scrubs.

The nurses.

I have watched the people in blue scrubs treat, console and comfort tons of patients, including myself. They have cried, laughed and sometimes just listened to the stories of their patients. I have always wondered, what exactly was it that brought them to their profession?

Well, I’ve spent so much time with my blue scrub family that I’ve come to find out most of them have a story. Either their mom, sister or best friend had cancer and lost the battle. Now, they are here to be the hands, feet, ears and, sometimes, the only family, for us patients.

To me, they were not only amazing nurses but they also went above and beyond with my care in ways that only nurses can. I thank every nurse who has taken care of me and I celebrate with you as you have treated me in bringing me to being cancer free!

Thank you for showing me there is light at the end of the tunnel. Or in my case hallway, and that light is YOU.

2 cupcakes, lots of visitors, and 5 hours later, the infamous sound of my machine goes off.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!


The bright pink balloons and a sweet sign that says “Last Chemo” hanging off my chair remind me it’s time to celebrate.
MY FINAL ROUND OF CHEMOTHERAPY WAS OVER!


Just then, a young woman, escorted by her family entered the room.  She spoke little English and I could tell by her quivering smile that all of this was new to her. She was so nervous. She had a pile of cancer related magazines, tons of fliers about cancer and so many papers on information in her hands. It looked like she was trying so hard to understand this disease. I knew she couldn’t see past this CANCER.
It instantly took me back to my first day. The nerves, the tears, the fear, the exhaustion, the pain, the uncertainty, doubt and worry. And yes, even the “cancer related” magazines…

Just then, I remembered the words that were on a necklace I was given.

It read:

What cancer cannot do…

It cannot…

Invade the soul

Corrode faith

Shatter hope

Destroy peace

Silence courage

Steal eternal life

Conquer the spirit

Cripple love

Kill friendship

Suppress memories


This drove me to my knees, but this time to pray over this woman. I wanted her to believe with all her heart what that necklace said.


To this woman and all other women taking a numbered chair today, cancer is not an easy thing to deal with. Yet, know that this is not your final destination. This chair is your chariot carrying you through the process of your New Self.

“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:6

As I rise up out of this chair, on August 30, 2016, I remember our Jesus rising up out of the tomb! Jesus RISING reminds me of the joyous news, that Jesus’ death was not in vain, and I take comfort knowing that my journey has not been in vain neither.

You see, I have beaten cancer – Jesus has beaten death! 

These are two “impossibles” for the mind of man to comprehend, but this is the God I serve. This is the God walking before me down that dreaded hallway, next to my chair as I underwent chemo and the one who’s loving hands brought me through to my healing!

I have come to learn that my “empty chair” due to beating cancer wasn’t about staying alive, or knowing as much information as possible on the matter of cancer – it was about cherishing Christ! Jesus does more than give life: He is life and that’s why death has no power over Him! This is why cancer will never have power over ME!

I have been renewed in a way that only could’ve happened by going through cancer.

Let your MAIN focus switch from reading about cancer to reading about God. 

This is the key to a renewed life. To an empty chair.

Ask yourself: when people look at you, do they see Cancer or do they see Jesus? I pray the latter in my life.

God has made me need him and love him in a beautiful WAY! Therefore, I say thank you GOD for this gift.

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. Psalm 119:71

Jesus is MY life. He is the man to which every knee will bow. He has defeated Cancer and, most importantly, death – once and for all.

Let the reality of Jesus’ empty tomb and my empty chair make whatever your “cancer” is in this life look as futile as it really is.

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