I’m blessed to be sitting with my twin sister for a few short hours this afternoon. She’s lying quietly in her “London Room.” This room was full of her memorabilia from her journeys to London. It is a place that she loved. She’s moaning right now, unable to say anything or even open her eyes, but her heart rate is good. Her pain has been managed very well by my sister, Dina, and my brother, Richard. They are wonderful caretakers. My mom and dad are sitting with Denise then taking breaks now and then. My two brothers, David and Dathan, are here and doing what they need to do as we have different needs.
Pain–it’s a horrible thing. No one wants it. No one likes it.
My twin sister does not like pain. Her chief concern was that she would not be in pain during the dying process. None of us want to see her in pain anymore either. She’s a fighter though, and this means that she’s fighting the fight of her life. And she has done it so well. Her form may look weak and frail, but it’s her attitude, her belief. She helped us to believe that she could beat this cancer and we were all rooting for her. She helped us to believe in family coming together again as a single unit to minister to each other. She has done all of this. And you know what? She will beat this cancer!
“How will she beat it?” Well think about it. When she passes from this life people will inevitably say that cancer beat her because it killed her. Others will say that cancer beat her because she has not had much quality of life. I would like to answer these two false beliefs and then present to you the truth of the situation.
Cancer beat Denise
Yes, this last year has been hard on Denise. It has been hard on the rest of our family as well, but not like it is with Denise. She has been sick with vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and various and sundry things. She did whatever her doctors told her to do as they, too, we’re fighting for her life. The pain at times in her abdomen were excruciating. She would be keeled over in her recliner with her heating pad on her lower back. She sometimes didn’t take her pain medicine for fear of becoming addicted to it. Denise has struggled all year long with this disease that has attacked her little body.
However, Denise has not been defeated by cancer. I know people will say to my family, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Denise knows where she’s going and so do we. We are not losing her. Rather, she is beating cancer! How? By leaving it behind of course. She’s not leaving us behind. We happen to be traveling this same road as she. Perhaps we may not have cancer, but our bodies will give out here just the same and then we will be Jesus Christ our Lord. Read what Paul the apostle wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8:
6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight—
8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
Isn’t that great? You see, Denise is not being beat by cancer. She is just about to receive the greatest victory of her life. To be sure, cancer is not beating Denise.
Quality of Life
Now some of you who know Denise, and those of you who don’t, will say that she’s not had quality of life since all of this began. I don’t think she’d see this way at all. Again, her siblings and parents have all been united in her care. That’s quality of life. She has not been in excruciating paint that’s quality of life. She has all of her affairs in orders that’s quality of life. She knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That definitely quality of life.
Now I don’t even know where this idea of “quality of life” originated, but who determines the qualified life? The doctors? No, they didn’t improve it for Denise. Do you or I determine quality of life? No, we don’t have control over anyone else’s life except our own.
I will tell you who determines the quality of life: Jesus Christ Himself! Read what John the apostle wrote in John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life
You see, God determined that life has quality that He is willing to give it to anyone who believes Jesus Christ unto salvation. Read the account in Genesis 2:7:
Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
If He is the One who breathed life into the nostrils of man, then life has quality. Furthermore, read how God has formed each of us according to the psalmist in Psalm 139:13-18:
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
So the days of life that have been ordained for Denise is qualified by God because He is the One who formed her–who formed us–in our mother’s womb.
The Truth of the matter
I believe with all my being that we are not losing Denise and I do not agree with the idea that she has no quality of life. Every breath is qualified by the Maker of heaven and earth. And even more importantly than that, her quality of life is about to change to that of a greater kind. Although she will be absent from the body, she will be present with Jesus Christ. Paul the apostle said it best in Philippians 1:21:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
See? For Denise to die is gain! That’s quality of life! She inherits everything. At the point of death here in this life she will inherit and see that which already belongs to her. She will see “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).
Thanks, Niecey! You’re showing us and still teaching us how to live. I love, 1/2!
As I sit next to my twin sister, Denise, I think of the last picture (above) that we had taken of each other. It was a day where she was in the hospital due to major pain in her abdomen. The cancer that is killing my sister is in a vascular area called the mesentery. It is the body lining to which major organs are attached. I mention the vascular area because the primary cancer is wrapped around a major artery just below her belly button. It has been a dreadful fight for her, but she has endured.
This same cancer is what killed our first cousin, Brenda in March 2014. Her cancer was further along than Denise’s but the result is the same. Chemotherapy has not helped to bring any quality of life. Rather, it has merely weakened my twin sister’s body all the more. Her face is sunken, her hands wanting to curl, her mouth open wanting for breath.
Now, as a shell of a woman, my twin sister lies semi-comatose. She hears me along with everyone else. Sometimes her facial expression is such that we know when she’s not happy with our movement of her frail body. At other times she will groan like nothing I have ever heard from my twin. She hurts. She wants to say something but nothing comes out in the form of words. This is the first time in forty-seven plus years that my twin has not spoken to me. We have always spoken even if we were at odds with each other. We have always understood each other until now. It bothers me that I cannot hear her voice speaking to me. To hear her sing was a beautiful thing. The last time I heard her sing was in the hospital when she sang with my Cheryl, “Lord, I lift Your Name on high! Lord, I love to sing your praises! I’m so glad You’re in my life. I’m so glad You came to save us! You came from Heaven to earth, to show the way! From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay! From the cross to the grave, from grave to the sky, Lord, I lift Your name on high!”
She is becoming congested due to the excretions in her body. She tries to cough but she is not strong enough to cough. We have to do chest percussions now.
With the tenderness of a loving sister, Dina, our older sister, comes to her aid. Dina has been here caring for Denise. She has given my Mom an opportunity to just spend time with Denise instead of having to take care of other things. Dina has brought that relief to my Mother who has been caretaker for the last year. Tom, Denise’s boyfriend, is able to spend time with Denise not having to worry about her care. Dina ensures that there are no bed sores. Dina makes sure that Denise is hydrated. And best of all, she has managed Denise’s pain while ministering to the rest of the family, explaining the dying process. This is no easy task but with finesse she loving tells us how to care for Denise and what to expect. She is amazing. She is the finest caretaker I have ever seen. Dina is teaching me how to care for others.
Denise takes five or so large breaths. For the next ten to fifteen seconds she is taking very shallow breaths only to take these five breaths to catch up. She has oxygen as she sleeps. Her blood pressure goes up and then it comes down. Her heart rate is erratic.
When the doctor sent her home a few weeks ago, she was told that she had two weeks to two months to live. She did not accept the news. No, she is not afraid of dying; she knows where she is going when she leaves this body behind. She enjoys life but this cancer loves death. Denise has been one of the strongest of women that I have ever known. She fought a valiant fight. Denise has run her race. Tonight I told her that she has completed her work here. It is alright if she leaves us. I know full well that it is God who decides if she has finished; I just want to encourage her.
Now the tragedy of death is not the cancer. It is not the chemotherapy that weakened her all the more. The tragedy of death is that death affects all of us. One hundred percent of people in this world will die. It may not be cancer or some other dreadful disease. It is just a fact that death is inherent in all of us. All of us are tainted by it. But why? For what reason are we marred with death from the onset of our lives?
The Bible says this in Romans 5:12:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.
We are all affected by death because of sin. Now I do not believe that my twin sister committed some heinous sin that caused this cancer to eat away at her. I am not sure why this death is taking her this way. I just believe and know that sin in general has brought death not only to her, but to everyone. All of us are affected by this.
They great news is that Jesus Christ has died according to the Scriptures, was buried, and has been raised again according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He has secured a way for my twin sister, Denise, to live for eternity. Do you remember John 3:16 from vacation bible school?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Denise believes that God loves her and sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die in her place. But even further than that, she believes that God raised Him from the dead thereby securing eternal life for all who believe.
Now if you know anything about my twin sister, know that which is of utmost importance. Do not think of her as a fighter. Do not think of her as leader. Do not think of her as a teacher. Do not think of her as an angel who is about to get her wings. Rather, think of Denise who is about to win the victory over death. Think of her as one who is a Christ-follower. This is who she really is. She has followed Him here and she will follow Him there.
The tragedy of death is not her death. The tragedy of death is the countless ones who will die not believing and knowing Jesus Christ like Denise knows and believes Jesus Christ. Has she been perfect here? By no means, and she would tell you this. But the reality of her death only moves her to perfection–the perfection of Jesus Christ.
Do you believe these truths? If your answer is ‘yes’, that is great. If your answer is ‘no’, then it is time for you to read this next verse from Hebrews 4:8:
Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.
If you hear God speaking to you telling you to believe and trust Jesus Christ to save you from your sin and give you eternal life, believe Him today! How? You can pray a prayer like this: “Dear Lord, I know that I am infected with death because I am a sinner. I am trusting You right now to forgive me of my sin and to give me eternal life. I believe that Jesus Christ died according to the Scriptures, was buried,mane was raised again according to the Scriptures.mi give You my life. Thank You, Jesus, for giving Your life for me. In Your name I pray, Amen.
If you prayed this prayer, please let me know by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would like to send you some information on how to grow in your belief in Jesus Christ.