It’s the end of July and I was feeling the intensity of the simmering southern heat while visiting my sister and her family in Raleigh, N.C. I found myself reclining on her comfortable sofa in her air-conditioned living room while holding a newborn baby boy only 6 weeks old. As I sat there smelling the top of his forehead to breathe in that newborn baby smell, I rubbed my hands softly through his silky black curls.
My sister Stephanie leaned over and whispered in my ear, “That’s a miracle you’re holding.”
I looked at her sideways because I didn’t catch on to what she was saying, but then I suddenly recalled what happened just two years earlier. I said, “Ahaha, yes, he is a miracle.” This is my cousin Jonathan’s baby.
I visited Jonathan two years earlier when he was in the hospital. Jonathan always wore a warm smile that could take the chill off of any room when he walked through the door. At age 25 and 5′ 11″ with a slim build and a head full of black locs barely touching his shoulders, Jonathan found himself in the ring fighting the toughest opponent that he could imagine, Cancer.
Jonathan was misdiagnosed several times and sent home with a diagnosis of bronchitis. He knew it was something more because the symptoms persisted and would not go away.
I wondered if it was because he didn’t have medical insurance that the hospitals kept sending him home with only medication.
With a persistent cough, strep throat, and chest congestion, Jonathan dragged himself to yet another hospital looking for some relief. When they took a chest x-ray he was told the grim diagnosis by the doctor that he had lymphoma.
According to the American Cancer Society, lymphoma attacks the cells, which are part of the body’s immune system.
Jonathan was admitted to the hospital and immediately started chemotherapy treatments. As he lay in the hospital bed distraught over the news he started calling his family and friends. To his surprise, he noticed that the ones closest to him did not come to see him right away. He thought as the minutes turned to hours and the hours turned to days lying there watching the clock, are they afraid of me because I have Cancer?
Jonathan turned to the only true and faithful friend he had and that was God. He prayed for deliverance, healing, and restoration as he recited the scriptures over and over.
Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Then suddenly he started to see his friends and family members come one by one peering from around the corner as they timidly tapped on the hospital door bringing balloons, get well cards, and flowers by the dozens, which brought a sweet aroma to his cold sterile room.
When I walked in the room to see my handsome cousin he was looking thinner than usual and weary from this fight. I told him you’ll make it through this. God can do it — only believe. Desperately trying to give him a glimmer of hope, I said in a trembling voice, when you come through this the world will know that you are a fighter and that it was God who delivered you.
He slowly turned his head and gave me a partial smile and said, “I know you don’t know this cuz, but I am taking chemo now as we speak.”
I looked at the IV in his arm and a chill ran down the back of my neck and down my spine. He was right, I didn’t know. When I gazed into his eyes his eyelids slowly begun to close as he drifted off to sleep. I sat there for several minutes unable to move and lowered my head in prayer. I leaned over the bed railing and kissed him on the forehead with a salty kiss and quietly left the room trembling unable to hold back the tears as they rolled down my cheeks.
Jonathan had to undergo months of grueling outpatient treatments. His cousin Rich was devastated by the news. He always felt a bond with Jonathan and didn’t want to lose his cousin to this disease. Rich noticed that Jonathan’s locs started falling out one-by-one and his hair started getting thinner and thinner. Frantically trying to find a way to support his cousin and help him in this fight, Rich made a pact that they both would cut off their long locs together. One day they both went to the barbershop and Rich had his haircut first one long loc at a time, then Jonathan.
“It’s only hair,” Rich said reluctantly as he picked up the long strands lying on the floor of the barbershop with a half-smile on his face.
After 7 months of outpatient treatments, Jonathan was told the tumors were gone. It’s been two years now and Jonathan is healthy, strong, and full of energy. He was told by the doctors that he may never be able to father children. The miracle baby is proof that God can do anything but fail.
If I had to pick one word to describe Jonathan it would be “FIGHTER.”
For more information on Lymphoma, go to the American Cancer Society (ACS) http://www.acs.org.