Now. It’s been a while….

Some people are made to lead and be that anchor…

While others are called to a different path, more turbulent, violent, a relentless pursuit of one’s soul…one’s sanity, one’s heart…

I say, Wait On the LORD… Wait on the Lord … In His time, He will come. He will scoop you up, out of the pit, the miry clay and set your feet on the Solid Rock…

No one tells you what it looks and feels like in the waiting… Generational curses are not broken so easily… Sometimes it takes someone willing to stand in the GAP …. The Travail…

Some of Us have to face demons, hell and some of the most wicked entities and behaviors we didn’t even know existed… generational curses… a Repeat of the Prison your ancestors faced… I’m not surprised when I can look back on my life and see that I walked through very similar paths that prior generations of my family faced… Some curses are so strong that they just go from generation to generation…

Until it got to me…. I am the Lords beloved and He is mine. There is a sweet surrender when you are at a point in your life when the only person you have in your corner is yourself….. That is where GOD found me as a teenager. You know you can be surrounded by people, and still be alone? When I was 13 , He came and told me I belonged to Him and that I was called for Greatness.. And I believed Him… I told God, “Here I am! Choose me, send me! For you, I will go” and so I went..

I went down into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, into the Pit of Despair, Fear Anxiety and all of the things that are meant to break your entire a spirit… For over a decade , it felt like tentacles slowly wrapping around my legs and arms, my body, my mind and thoughts… I was drowning and then to make matters worse … I had to go through one of the results of living in self loathe and a toxic internal environment : Cancer.

When you go through deep waters, remind yourself that there is an assignment against you , your life your heart, your children and your children’s children…

Let me tell you this day I remembered there was an assignment on my life and how I fought back: December 23, 2016

I’ll never forget this one day… I had been devastated by life. I felt abandoned , betrayed, and lost.

I fell onto my kitchen tile floor, home alone … Sobbing in Pain…

And as I sobbed on the floor , I had this understanding that in my pain and disbelief of the reality of my situation… The adversary ..was watching me … At my lowest at what I felt was a shattering of my heart…

I used MY OWN FREE Will to audibly say these words…. between sobs, as my tears formed puddles on the tile floor…

I said, “I love you Jesus… I Love you Jesus” It’s hard to speak or pray or do anything when you are collapsed on the floor in complete disarray but… I didn’t finish there…

I whimpered, “I love you Jesus… I Love you………… I know, Jesus, this isn’t from you.. You Love me…. I am your daughter….”

As each statement came out of my mouth… More tears would pour out of my eyes, but I continued…” I love you Jesus ….. and there is NOTHING that will ever make me stop loving you” and that to this day has been a Fact.

Two days later , my father died and I would have to travel alone, to grieve alone without support from a spouse but thankfully with the support of mom and my family… Those who know me know about a Christmas Miracle I received on the day my father passed. Two days after sobbing on my Kitchen tile floor, as I was walking to my connecting Flight.. I didn’t know my father was passing away in that exact moment but before He died , He came to me.. I was close to jogging to make it to my flight to NY and I heard a voice that felt like Thunder. It was my dads voice , he said “I LOVE YOU! I am so Proud of You!”

I like to believe that maybe God showed him that I was going to walk that same path that my grandmother passed : Cancer and that what my father went through : the break down of the physical body… and maybe just maybe… God allowed Papi to see me TODAY… An Overcomer of sickness, disease, abuse and generational curses that were sent to be the end of me.. Not my life.. the end of my sanity….

A few months later Id find out that my husband at the time had continued a friendship with a woman for about a year… phone calls , texts…without my knowledge…. Remember the day I was sobbing on the tile floor… Well this heartbreak was even worse…

And obedience to God taught me to Love and Forgive…because the church says “GOD hate’s Divorce

Who calls their wife on Valentine’s Day then hangs up and right away calls their “secret friend” … The realities and heartbreaks I’ve had to face give me the right to tell you, judgmental small minded people to be careful how you speak about a child of God… because this child of God will one day be used to humble you.. Greatly and Publicly because at the end of the day… I have a story… You thought you took my voice and my identity… No, You were just the catalyst used to put me in a position to save my family , my children and for a thousand generations….

After that came to light, I spent the next year living as what I would call a “slave of the house” I’d spend the next year , trying to prove to my spouse that I was good enough, I was worthy of love .. Every day praying for just an ounce of love and affection…

You ever go to kiss your significant other , the one you have given your heart to and had them repeatedly , turn their cheek… or publicly tried to hold their hand, interlocking your hands, like two people who love each other only to have it shaken away.

When you are lost, you are lost. You can’t see in front of you and you can’t recognize the signs that the life you are in, the environment you are in is Toxic…

I endured some things that scarred me. Every day, those who love me and are in my life deal with… The scars and symptoms of mental and emotional abuse and the journey to recovery have been exhausting, difficult but so worth it… PTSD is real… I can be washing dishes and have flashbacks of a moment in time. I see it in a new perspective. I know it’s part of the healing journey but my goodness some memories are so sad… I have so much compassion for that Jessica that lived in that prison…

My saving Grace for over a decade: My boys. Their Love and Smiles Healed me.. I could hug them and their existence was like water to my thirsty soul.. A reminder of GODS perfect Love…

I finally had the courage to leave… For the second time. Yes, I left the first time but I believed in GOD and that He could repair us… What I realized later is that as human beings, we have FREE WILL … My Free Will can Choose God but you can’t force another person’s free will to choose God , Us and our family…

I can’t regret the decisions I had to make to survive. I even had a pastor from a big church call me and try to convince me to go back. I said Pastor, “ I have lived in this toxic cloud for almost a decade… You can’t see my wounds. But I have deep , gaping wounds that are bleeding and I can barely hold myself together, Pastor. Pastor, when He left, the CLOUD left with him. Immediately my Home had Peace. The heavy , Cloud that hung over my home , dissipated and I can’t go back.”

A few months later, my health took a turn and cancer came knocking on my door…

I believe that if I would not have ended the marriage when I did, I would have walked through cancer with this fraudulent love from a husband that made me feel like a pebble in his shoe and I could have died.

You cannot fight Cancer in a toxic environment… Anything less than true genuine LOVE and Support was not allowed to walk with me on my cancer journey. I was protected by my tormentors and laughed more in the year I went through cancer than in the previous 5 years… isn’t that something….

But God. God is the strength of my Heart and my portion forever…and He made out of no way..

He hand picked my Care Team and very few were able to hang in there through the entire journey and it’s okay… because what I needed to survive, God provided… How can I not be thankful? I’m alive, I’m well and Peace , Mercy and Goodness fills my cup daily….

My relationship with God over the past few decades has been a rollercoaster ride… but one thing always remained true… My Loyalty is to GOD, not man. No, there was no anger towards God but hurt. I felt so betrayed by Life… It was never supposed to be this way, but it happened.

And today, I feel sooo free and soo loved and so at Peace with where I am… And God… well He just likes to show off now. Life is exciting because I know miracle are around the corner.. They surprise me , I laugh, I delight and I keep fighting the good fight.

Th point of this blog… written today November 17th at 3am is to tell you…

I have a story. I went down into the pit, the darkest places that I would not wish on anyone…

And I waited… and waited and waited…

In the wait, lots of pain, lots of suffering, physical, mental , emotional, and sexual abuse all came after me…my heart, my children …

But I refused to waver in my belief and Trust in God…. I have to confess not only was it difficult but I cried and sometimes when I cried id say.. “God, I know you love me , I know that I’m your daughter. You Love me , I know you do.. even though this doesn’t feel like Love”

And He came… and He pulled me out… and here I am . Alive. And I have a story …

I don’t know who needs to hear this but, sometimes all we can hold on to is the very delicate hem of his garment because we are at the end of ourselves.. I tell you, Don’t let go…

He’s coming… He’s coming.. He’s moving mountains and tearing down walls and barriers to get to you… I promise…


After cancer, God gave me Job 42… I’m holding on to JOB 42 and so far so good….

To be continued…………..

Now. The fight.

This post is dedicated to the beautiful Samantha Schultz.  I write this to you because I began this journey to document my experiences and life.  It became more painful than I could have ever thought.  I believed I was blogging the past and writing my present triumphs, only to realize that I too, am still in the fight.  I had not written in a while and had no plans to write any time soon.  Then I came across your words, Sam, and here I am writing again.  This one is dedicated to you.

This summer, I had spent a month really working towards bringing peace of mind to my heart.  I had been struggling so much with anxiety lately, and it was really affecting my sleep, my eating patterns, and my motivation. I began to incorporate yoga, exercise, and meditation to try to manifest calmness and tranquility.  I was never into that stuff, but I am a firm believer that we need to dive into the waters of tranquility through meditation, go on bike rides, and practice deep breathing exercises. I had spent over a month creating healthier habits, and learning how to remain grounded. And then……….

On August 16, 2020, at about 7am, I began to read the new test results that stated that my recent scans showed a small mass near the surgical bed of where the tumor had been removed. To be honest, I didn’t read or understand anything that it said.  The only thing I did not see were the words, “No evidence of recurring disease.”  

I went straight to the bathroom to read and re-read the results. My boys were still asleep, and I needed to hide. In that moment, I couldn’t fully explain what happened in medical terms but I think I lost it.  My heart was raced as visions of what I had went through in 2018 and 2019 appeared in my mind.  I broke out into a sweat as I realized the pictures I was seeing, like a movie in my head.  I saw myself sitting in the chemo chair again, about to get injected with the “red devil.” I saw myself back in CTU, running to the bathroom sick and so discouraged. I remembered the color of my skin and nails and how dark they became, and that day I brushed my hair after cycle one, realizing the time had come for me to lose it. The radiation burn that left me so broken was so vivid once again.  The hundreds of times I had been prodded and poke felt so real again. I saw again the moment after my first chemo cycle, when I felt my body vibrating in pain and discomfort.  Those of us touch by cancer, have experienced a suffering in our own body and mind that we will never forget.  Many of us know pain, we know hurt, but the physical suffering of a body going through chemotherapy is something that changes you.  I remember weeping to the Lord and crying out for Him to save me from this agony.  Every cell in my body suffered, and there was nothing to escape it.  For over, three months during treatment, my heart rate never fell under 100 beats per minute.  Even when it was bedtime, all I could hear was the fast paced, strong, reverberating sound of my heart beating: “boom, boom, boom, boom.”  I thought that people with cancer, slept.  I wondered, day and day, “where is my sleep?” I was so tired, yet I couldn’t find rest. 

We do so much, or at least we try to do so much to heal our physical, outside bodies.  We try to eat right, and exercise.  We will get the latest workout program, and exercise equipment, not realizing that true health, begins in the mind and in the heart.  I may have taken care of my outward physical body, but I compromised my mental health and my emotional health over the past 10 years.  I allowed way too many people and things in my head, and I lost my way, my self worth, and my identity.  I may have been healthy outwardly, but my soul and my mind were dying.  Our minds control so much of our health and our body, and now I understand. 

That morning, when I didn’t get the result I wanted, I cried. I breathed, then cried, got up, walked around, breathed, told myself to calm down, everything is going to be okay, but then the images, the memories, poured back into my mind, and I just wept. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder came knocking.   

I called my mom. I tried so hard to be strong, but who else was I going to call other than my lighthouse.  I was drowning in a sea terror, and I had no idea what to do.  I could hear the sound of my heart breakin…again.  All the little pieces just crumbling to the ground, and me trying to catch them one by one while repeating to myself over and over, “Everything is gonna be okay, Jess,” I was filled with this encompassing feeling of disappointment.  And, “Oh God, it’s Kalel’s Birthday!” 

After speaking to my mom, I cried and prayed.  I said, “Lord, you gotta help me. Please, I’m falling apart you, got to save me!” I could feel myself, everything that I was and who I am, just slipping away, mentally.  But, LOVE. “Oh Jesus, thank you for LOVE and the gift of Motherhood.” Love is Everything. The LOVE of a mother to her children became everything in those moments.  Oh that precious, yet powerful force that is love, pushed me to wash my face, wipe my tears, and pull myself together for my son’s birthday.  When all I wanted to do was lay in my bed and cry, I had to let it go, give it to God, and make this day great.

What is worse than getting a result that is unexpected and scary; the WAIT. The wait for doctor’s appointments, the wait for more bloodwork, and more tests.  The weeks between the report, being scheduled for another scan, and a biopsy was yet another test of my faith.  Despite the darkness and negative thoughts that came at me like arrows, I had to choose peace, I had to choose joy, and I had to choose Trust.   After several weeks, the results came back from my biopsy.  The greatest news was that it was scar tissue that had formed.  The mental suffering and battle that I had to fight made me realize that I had so much work to do inside my heart and mind.  The damage left behind by that tornado had to be fixed and cleaned up.  I came to the conclusion that I really wasn’t as strong as I thought I was, and I have much work to do.  

There was a part of myself that on August 16, 2020, left.  Completely gone, disappeared, stepped back, whatever you want to call it, it wasn’t there.  I knew it, I felt it.  Knowing myself, I was determined to do everything possible to get it back.  I needed to dig deep, dig wide, and take back what the enemy had taken from my life in all of its entirety.  Every single day, I take back the territory of my heart and mind that belongs in a season of rest, safety, and security.

There are moments in life where you will be given two choices; you either lay down and die, or you fight. You fight, even if you don’t know how to or where to begin.  You fight for the love of your children and loved ones, you fight for your health, you fight for your sanity, and you do not back down no matter how hard it gets.   

As of today, I am 18 Months Cancer Free 🙂

August 16th, 2020 :

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will RESTORE my life again; from the depths of the Earth you will again bring me up.” Psalm 71: 20

Then. Abandonment

Written on September 22, 2018

Abuelito Andres.  When I think about him, he is the first memory of a man and father figure that I could remember.  What can I say?  He was there when I was a baby, and at about 5 years old, there is one thing that I knew and that I was sure of;  it is that I LOVED my grandfather, so much.  With him, I felt protected, loved, safe, and secure.  I remember how he used to hold me up in his arms and carry me with such strength and love. I remember his face very vaguely, but from what I do remember, it was a face with features that were strong, sharp, confident, and full of love.  

Abandonment.  I think one of the hardest lessons in this life that I have had to learn is how to overcome abandonment.  I believe that if everyone takes a minute to look back on their life, they will see certain patterns and life experiences that are related.  Experiences that have been repetitive. Things that have consistently happened as a child, teenager, and throughout ones adult life.  Well, abandonment has been mine.  Although I was never raised or lived with my father, I can’t say that I felt abandoned by him because in reality, he tried hard to be there for us, and he was.  He lived in Puerto Rico and we lived in New York, but he would do what he could to call us and come visit us.  My first experience with abandonment came from the first father figure that I ever had and that I remember the most.  

At some point, my grandmother and grandfather (step-grandfather) were divorcing. I had no idea, I was just a little girl free of any cares in the world. I was very close to them because during my first couple years, mom was in school studying to be a nurse, and she was also working full time. I was with my grandmother often, and I also just loved her more than anything, and around that time of my life, I was told that I just wanted to be with her. There were times when my mom would pick me back up from Abuelita’s house and on the car ride home, I would just cry because I wanted to go back. My first few memories of my life, I remember them so vividly, as the center of my world that filled me with so much love and security.

What I do remember is a day, that if I close my eyes, I can go back to it and see it so vividly. I can recall that same day and moment like it was yesterday.  It is so engraved in my memory that it doesn’t matter the years that go by, I remember. I can still feel the pain and disappointment.  It was the day my heart broke for the first time.  It was the day that the greatest, strongest, most loving man who had carried me on top of the world with his strong hands and protected me for so many of the first years of my life on Earth, would cause my heart to break into a million tiny pieces.  

The memory goes like this:  

I was at my grandmother’s house, and she was in her room.  I remember that she calls me into the room and tells me that Abuelito is on the phone and that he wants to talk to me.  I had no idea what that conversation would bring. I imagine me running to the phone, excited to get to talk to my grandfather.  I imagine that it was probably days, if not weeks that had gone by since I had seen him and spoken to him.  I think about my heart, the heart of a child, who had been missing him and just ready to hear his voice.  The details of the conversation are very vague, but there were two very important things that he told me during that conversation.  

The first, he said in spanish, “I’m sorry, but I can’t be your grandfather anymore.” I don’t even know how the mind of a 5 year old could even begin to comprehend that statement. I know that I must have protested against what he was saying in some way or another.  I know I must have asked “but why?.” Whether it was with words or tears, I was devastated.  The final words that I remember as clear as yesterday was when he said:
“I left Rochester, I live in Puerto Rico, and I’m not coming back.”

 My hero, my grandfather, the greatest, strongest man in my life was breaking up with me, and there was nothing I could say or do to stop him.  More than the tears, I remember the sobs that came out of my body.  I remember my body convulsing in pain as my grandmother tried to hold me down to comfort and console me.   Oh how I remember that day so vividly, and it will forever be a day that I will never forget. 

I have this picture in my baby book.  It is a picture of the day my siblings and I were being presented to the Lord.  In the picture, you see my grandmother first, you can see my sister Nellie, and someone holding my other sister Vanessa.  The star of the picture is me, looking straight at the camera being held by the strongest, most loving grandfather I had ever known who was being ordained as my Godfather. It makes me sad because you can’t even see his face.  All that remains of his love and strength is a silhouette of his face.  The one thing I do have is a picture of his hands.  His strong hands holding me with so much love and security.  I’d spend the next 35 years feeling so unsafe and unprotected, but I can always go back to that moment, in that picture, when I know that, in that moment, he loved me and that I was his little girl. 

Abuelito, I wonder who I would have become if you would have remained in my life. I needed you, but I know that other life experiences drove you away. I know that you didn’t want to leave, but you had to. I wish you would have never left my life. I needed your love to help me become someone even greater in this world. There were so many things you knew that you could have taught me. I needed you to save me from the next man that abuelita would bring into my life. He wasn’t a good man, like you were. I wish you would have stayed and continued to be the loving, strong, protective grandfather that I knew you to be.

After that experience, the feeling of abandonment, or more like the feeling of the fear of being abandoned became intertwined within my soul.  I would later experience that same repetitive type of abandonment.  I would have friends who I would open up my heart and my soul to.  Friends who I would love more than anything, who would from one day to another, change.  They would leave me, turn their backs on me, for no reason, maybe it was their own life journey or circumstance that would cause them to disappear from my life.  I would always be left in a sea of devastation, sadness and confusion.  I would always be left questioning my value, my worth, and in a sea of loneliness and confusion. Every single time, I had to pick myself up from the floor where puddles of tears lay, and keep moving forward.

Written October 9, 2020

It took me over two weeks to post this one. I had just posted my “Now” entry, and my family and I found out that a cousin of ours took his life. It shook my family and myself. I asked myself, “Does it really matter, if I post or not? What is the point, if it doesn’t help someone?” but then I remember, even in grief, we have to keep pushing forward. Descanza en paz, Primo.

This particular entry that I posted today hits me deep into the deepest parts of my heart and soul. It’s such a dee scar that I felt no rush to go back and read this entry, edit it, and add to it. It wasn’t until a couple of days ago that I read a message about one of my posts. A deep reminder and straight up “nudge” from my Creator that allowed me to visualize the purpose of it all. And so I went back, reached out to my sister, who is the cofounder of this project, and she gave me another nudge.

And so I write…..

As I went to my baby book and turned the pages, to try to find this one single picture that I have of my grandfather, I came across the second, and only picture that I have of him. It was taken about 12 years later when my mom took us to Puerto Rico, and we went looking for Abuelito Andres, as I remembered him. I look at the picture, and remember the reunion. I was about 15 years old, and I was so excited to see him. I was young so I didn’t really know how to carry on conversation, so I just looked at him and was thankful to have the opportunity to see him again. At 37 years old, I look at the picture today and realize that when I saw him the second time, it just wasn’t the same. He was a stranger now, and that meeting was some closure for me, and I was so grateful for the gift of seeing him one last time.

And then I go back to this portrait, taken in 1985, on a warm August day. This was in Rock Christian Center, the church I was born and raised in. I know for a fact they got those window air conditioners when I was a teen, therefore it was pretty warm in there which could explain the expression on my face. At two years old, I was probably hot, tired, and had absolutely no clue what was going on, but the man holding me did. This was the day that I was presented to the Lord. The day my parents and my grandparents committed teaching me how to know and love the Lord.

Oh how I love this portrait and the people in the portrait. How I remember so much the love I have for my grandmother. She passed away when I was around 9 years old of uterine cancer. Her face is so vague to me and I remember her voice was soft, but her love continues to make my heart swell when I think of her. Over 30 years later, I’ve been told that my heart and the person I am reminds them so much of Abuelita Benita. For that I am honored to still carry her with me.

Before I finish, I focus on the portrait and how my grandfather is so perfectly present there, yet you cannot see his face. I see the first father figure, I see a tall, dark man, with the strongest hands. I see and feel the love of my Father. As uncomfortable as it feels and it gets, I know that I am protected, I am loved, and I am held.

I love the way You love, Father. I love the way that I can see you in every detail of my life, and even in a portrait that is over 3 decades old. I love that no matter, you remind me every moment that you can, that I am not alone, and that every moment that I was abandoned, you drew me closer. You drew closer to me especially on those days that I felt like I was drowning in tears. On those days that I would look in the mirror, and see sadness and discomfort in my eyes, I looked up at you, my hero, and I melted in complete surrender by your Love. I put my arms up, and look into your eyes pleading for you to save me from this sorrow and discomfort. Without fail, you pick me up and wrap your strong arms around me. In your arms, held by your hands, I’m safe. For that, I am forever grateful. Thank you Lord, because even in an old portrait on warm summer day in August of 1985, I can see you.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Picture taken August 1985 at Rock Christian Church on Bay Street in Rochester, New york

Now. Psalm 23.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the death I will fear no evil, for the Lord is with me; your rod and staff comfort me.” Psalm 23

One of the first verses or chapters from the bible that people tend to know first and memorize is Psalm 23.  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  It sounds so familiar, doesn’t it? Psalm 23 is used for most funerals, and truly, I am not sure why, but it is.  Growing up, Psalm 23, has always been synonymous with funerals.  Ironically, Psalm 23 became the scripture from the Bible, that in 2018, gave me so much hope and comfort.  But there is one verse that resounds in my heart and spirit like no other in that chapter.  To me, the valley of the shadow of death, for the first 35 years of my life, was a very, very foreign place.

Today, the valley of the shadow of death is a familiar path that I have had to walk.  I thought I had been through the worst this life had to offer, but I was so wrong.  I’ve been dealt my cards of hardships since the day I can remember. There comes a point, when you are like, “OK, now I’ve really reached the bottom of the pit.  Surely, it can’t get much worse than this.”  If there is one thing I know, it’s that you can never underestimate what could possibly be around the next corner.  It could be rainbows and butterflies, or it can be pure hell.  Regardless of what is on the other side of the curtain, you have got to be prepared.  My mind, my heart, and my spirit have to be aligned with my purpose on this planet.  We can’t just sit around and wait for life to happen to us because, the fact of the matter is, that it is going to happen, and we have to be prepared. 

Do I have the answers as to why some seem to suffer more than others? I do not, but I do know that there is not one soul on this Earth that goes unscathed.  Everyone has their own battles.  Battles that we have no idea that they are fighting, which is why we must be kind and love our neighbor.  We can either tear each other down, or we can remind ourselves that every individual that we encounter is someone’s son, daughter, father, mother, and friend.  They are loved by others, and they too, love.  Each person on this planet was created in God’s image, beautiful, important, and loved by the creator of the universe.  Reminding ourselves of that fact every day, helps us to be kind to others even in moments when it is unconventional to.

I wasn’t ready. I wish I was. I wish I had been. There was nothing that could have prepared me for that day and the weeks that would follow. August 16, 2020: It was my oldest son’s 12th birthday, and I had the day planned out. I woke up, like every other morning, still feeling the aches and twists in my stomach, due to anxiety, but it wasn’t enough to stop me from having a great day with my boys. A week prior, I had been to UM for my routine tests and exams.

Every 3 months, I have to go through the process. The anticipation of my 3 month checkup coming up, then the process of actually going to the hospital for my exams, and of course the final step is “the wait.” Thanks to technology, all of my tests and exams are at my fingertips. I can review my medical records, email my doctors (which I’ve lost count of how many I’ve had), and have my tests results as soon as they are posted. It doesn’t matter the time or the hour, whether I am ready or not, my test results arrive at my phone with a friendly notification that says, “You have new test results.” That morning, that friendly notification came in around 7 o’clock in the morning.

This has been my normal for almost two years. Every 3 months: the tests, the wait, the results. It never fails that every time that notification hits my phone, my heart sinks a little. Mostly, because I have no idea what waits for me on the other side of this message. For over a year, I have been blessed with a report that reads, “No evidence of recurring disease.” Oh, how I wait, and look forward to seeing those words. My hands and fingers always shake as they maneuver quickly through my phone to find the MyChart app. It is this sudden release of adrenaline that immediately makes my heart pound in my chest like it wants to come out. These words mean everything to me. It means that, for three months, I can breathe. I can live my life. I can be free of worry, and most of all, it means that I don’t have to enter that dreaded valley with so many shadows.

I read in a post my cousin wrote recently.  It said, “It’s okay, not to be okay.” We all have our own life experiences, and as much as we try to be strong, there are things that will trigger us.  Those triggers can hit right where it hurts; right there, smack in the middle of our deepest fears. 

I opened up the notification right away.  I scrolled all the way down to the bottom of the report known as the impression. It read, “New 1.1-1.2cm focus enhancement.”  I continued to read, just praying and panicking, looking for the words, “No evidence of recurring disease.”  It wasn’t there, it wasn’t anywhere on that report.  What was on the report was the finding of a small new mass that had not been there 3 months ago. 

If I could describe to you the sound of what happened to my mental health in that instant, it would be the sound of 1000 mirrors shattering completely to the ground.  I felt my heart sink to the ground.  I’ve been disappointed by  people, I’ve been disappointed when things don’t work out as planned, but in that moment, I felt so disappointed and completely betrayed by life.  All I wanted and all I needed were the sweet words that reassured me that all would be well, instead I was given the bitter taste of disappointment that brought along panic and fear.  It was as if a rolodex of memories began to consume my thoughts and mind.  My heart was racing, my whole body began to sweat, and I started to feel so dizzy.  I had memories of the Red Devil (doxorubicin) , visions of sickness, images of my face without eyebrows or lashes, and the thought that after this entire year, there could be a possibility that I would end up back at square one and in the OR for surgery.  The tears just came pouring out, and I had to put my hand over my mouth to muffle the sobs that tried to escape.  My little boy was just nearby sleeping in my bed (some days, he just wants to sleep with his mama).  My oldest was in his room sleeping and surely when he would wake, the excitement of his birthday presents would be the only thing on his mind. I quietly went to the dining room and just wept.  I didn’t realize the trauma that I had experienced over the past two years until I was forced back into that valley in that one moment.  I was flooded with thoughts of sickness and death.  It wanted to swallow me whole, and all I could do was pray to God to help me.

The valley of the shadow of death is a place that I wouldn’t even want my worst enemy to walk through. There are so many people walking on this Earth that have never experienced, nor will ever have to walk through this valley that I have. For some people, when their time comes it may be quick or unexpected, in the flash of an eye. Like the Bible says, our life is like a vapor, here one second and gone the next. But Lord, bless the minds and hearts of my brothers and sisters that have been touched by illness and disease, whether it be physical or mental. Imagine waking up every morning and looking into the eyes of your babies with so much love, yet at the same time, having thoughts crawl in that tell you that you probably won’t get to see them grow up.

That is the internal struggle that we face. Not just I, but so many millions of people. It hangs and looms over us just like a shadow that we can’t shake off. You can pray, you can cry, and you can hope, but those thoughts will always come with a vengeance to steer us away from our Anchor. The Bible says, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” Every problem, difficulty, heartbreak, illness and disease are nothing compared to the greatness of God’s love and His protection over our lives. This world became a world determined to break our human spirit by any means necessary. It is in these moments and seasons of hardship that we either sink or use everything inside of us to swim against those currents trying to pull us under. Our only saving grace is His Word. When all else fails, when death comes knocking, and the spirits try to get a hold of your heart, it is God’s Word hidden in our heart that will always come to the rescue. Always.

But in that moment, in my moment, that morning, I was falling from the top of that mountain, and falling so fast. There wasn’t anything that any person could have said or done to save me from myself and my own demons.

It was between Me and God.

Then. What’s in a name?

Written on September 19, 2018 (9 days after being diagnosed)

Papi. I wish I could recall the exact moment and date that I was told of this memory because if you know me, I am all about dates and numbers.  I know that God communicates with me through them.  When my father fell ill, my memory took me back to conversations that we had in the past.  One of my favorites was the story of the first time he saw me.  He came to Rochester from Puerto Rico, and I was about 6 months old.  He held me, looked into my eyes, and he said “Hi!! I’m your dad!” And I just laughed and laughed. I look to that memory that I was told about as a reminder of the love of a Father

I miss my dad.  He was such a significant part of my life, especially growing up. I miss his smile and his voice.  The way his eyes disappeared every single time he laughed; just like mine.  I miss his storytelling, and the way he used to turn everything into a joke and make those around him who were listening, just laugh.  I wasn’t raised with him, and I can’t tell you that we had to closest relationship, but one thing was for sure, I absolutely loved being in his presence.  He was so strong, and so special to so many people. I was the only one of his 6 children that never was raised or lived with him, but his love was always so pure and genuine, despite the distance.  

Before I was born, mom went through some hardships in her life and marriage with my dad.  At 8.5 months pregnant, she had to make the difficult decision to leave Puerto Rico, and she ended up in Rochester, NY pregnant with her three kids. Soon after, my dad also made it to New York because he asked to bring my brother back with him, and that in itself just broke my mom’s heart.  The details of that conversation are very vague to me, but what I do know is that once the conversation was over, and my dad left, mom was heartbroken. Completely and utterly heartbroken, on the ground sobbing like never before.  He not only left New York, but he was leaving my mom’s heart.  

I was born with this strong gift of empathy.  I know it’s a gift and unique to me because people just don’t get it.  Empathy is the ability to feel what others feel at a magnitude that it almost feels as though I have just stepped in that person’s heart.  This ability to feel empathy is a gift and can also feel like a curse.  Sometimes a person with a strong gift of empathy is also called a burden bearer.  The problem with burden bearing is that if you are not trained on how to manage this gift, it becomes a heavy burden.  A burden bearer is given the ability to feel the wounds and pains of others.  The skill with being a burden bearer is remembering that the purpose of carrying other’s burdens is to know how to pray for them.  We are to receive, feel, and then pray and give that burden right back to the Lord.  It’s when we don’t, and their sadness and their broken heart becomes intertwined with our own heart that causes us to suffer greatly.  Empathy and compassion are so intertwined, they cannot be separated.  Burden bearers have a supernatural ability to share in the joys of others.  I didn’t always know that what I have was a gift.  I can be at a coffee shop, a restaurant, or a grocery store, and my eyes will settle upon an individual, a stranger, and all of a sudden, my heart begins to ache.  A blanket of sorrow falls over my heart for just a moment, and it moves me to pray, “Be with them, Lord.”  I love God, and He always has a purpose, but there are days when I just have to ask God, “God, what is the purpose?” 

When I was in my mother’s womb, I felt mom’s anguish, her fears, every heartache, and pain.  I not only heard her heart beat, but I felt everything that she was feeling.  She was never alone.  I was there with her. I was there with a purpose, a greater calling.  As my body was being developed and formed in utter seclusion, so was my heart (Psalm 139).  Her life experiences throughout her pregnancy helped to develop the gifts God had already placed in me, and the kind of soul that I would have.  

When Papi left New York, he left a trail of sadness and heart break.  It wasn’t his fault.  It was his time to begin a new chapter, and it was the beginning of my mom’s as well.  

The next day, on a wonderful Wednesday morning, it would be time for me to break out of her womb, and make my grand entrance, which only two people were a witness to, and it was not my father.   

I have this baby book that mom made soon after I was born.  It’s an old pink baby book, and when you open the first page, there it is.  El “Arbor de familia del bebe.”  It’s a family tree that she put together.  It’s beautiful, detailed and a constant reminder of those who came before me; my ancestors who paved the way for my family.  The following page is by far, the most meaningful and significant, especially today, 35 years later. I spent years going back to this baby book, just to read that page.  Whenever I felt sad or lost, I would go to my parents’ room, looking for the book, just to read the passage that was written for me.  I just felt and knew that it had so much significance, but I didn’t know why or how. And for that reason, I have kept this book close to me throughout these 35 years. Words that were given to her by God, as guide, as a lighthouse, and as anchor for my soul.  Oh Mama, you had no idea that your little girl would go through some of the most traumatic and heartbreaking experiences that a girl should never have to go through. Yet, Mami, the simple act of writing the words that you did, when you did, has always kept me grounded.  No matter the storm, no matter the devastation, I have always looked to those words as a reminder of my worth.   

The first sentence that she wrote in the book was “Cana was a witness to this beautiful birth.” 

Wow, just reading those words makes me close my eyes and be completely in awe of how great, wonderful, and perfect God has been and will always be. 

You see, on the day I was born, it was just mom.  My dad was gone. He had left back to Puerto Rico.  My mom’s aunt, Titi Cana was the witness of my birth.  Why is that so significant to me?? Why is that small detail important?  Let me explain.

Before I was admitted into the hospital, Titi Cana arrived in Florida from Rochester, NY.  She had planned a trip down to visit South Florida.  On September 11, 2018, when I received the devastating news that my fight was against cancer, Titi Cana was there.  Not only was she a witness of the greatest day of my life, my birth, but now, God brought her back into my life to be a witness to one of the saddest days of my life; the day I was diagnosed with Cancer.  

Talk about a huge God Wink.  The way He can seamlessly orchestrate our lives in such a way that if we surrender our hearts to Him, I mean truly trust Him, He can be found in so many details of our lives.  He moves like a perfectly, synchronized symphony that is worthy of being honored and praised.  How can I ever doubt that there is a Lord, a Heavenly Father who has always kept me in the palm of His Righteous, Loving hand?  

The next part she wrote was, “You shall be named Jessica-in Hebrew means A gift from God, Amanda- worthy of love.” 

My name is Jessica Amanda, a gift from God who is worthy of love.  She continued to write, “Because of the circumstances in which you were born your name shall be special just like you are. Always be proud of your name and yourself.”  

Have you ever thought or realized the significance of YOUR own name?  In the scriptures, the names of the heroes of the Bible always had meaning, and sometimes, after a real-life changing experience, the Lord would actually change their name into an even greater one that would reflect a new beginning, a new chapter, and a greater purpose.  I encourage you, to seek and find the meaning of your name.  Embrace it, be proud of it, and let it speak to you.

This world is meant to do everything possible to try to keep us from seeing and realizing our importance and value in this world.  It’s can tear us down and present us with obstacles and experiences that will challenge your worth, value, and significance in this world.  Don’t let it.  Know your name and own your story.  

Knowing the circumstances in which I was born has helped shape me into the person I am today.  I have fought and struggled my whole life and knowing the circumstances in which I entered the world has help me fight and keep pushing.  It’s just me.  It’s who I am.  It’s the life I’ve lived.  A beautifully broken, torn masterpiece that has been painted with the beautiful faces of my boys, so much laughter and fun, heartache, tears, hardships, and even disease.  But it’s my story.  It’s the story I’ll tell of the battles He’s won. Every. Single. Time. 



September 13, 2020

There is one sound that the instant I hear it, I swear every cell in my body wakes up.  It doesn’t matter what I’m in the middle of doing, but as soon as I hear even the faintest sound, I become so aware of my surroundings and my environment. It is the powerful sound of thunder.  You see, I have this deep, extreme fear of thunderstorms that I can’t even try to hide. As long as I am indoors, I am okay, however you will see me constantly peeking out the windows listening for hail or looking for funnel clouds like a crazy lady.  If I happen to be outdoors when a storm is passing, I must immediately seek cover and will not dare come to the outside world until it has passed.  I’ve tried to be brave and get out of my car really quick to run into a grocery store.  I’ve gotten as far as getting out of the vehicle and walking toward the store, however as soon as I see a flash from a lightning bolt, I immediately run back to my car.  I cannot erase visions that flash in my mind of me being struck by lightning. I know, well at least I hope, I am not the only one with astraphobia.  As much as I am terrified of storms, I’m thankful for thunder.  Distant thunder takes on the voice of warning, and it reminds me to seek cover immediately.  Before. The. Storm. Arrives.

In the last month, I have realized that as much as I try to hold on to faith and hope, and as much as I try to fix my eyes on what is positive, there are some things in this life that will completely derail you.  It doesn’t matter how much trust you have that things will continue to be better and go well. It does not matter how great, and powerful the God that you serve and trust with your life is, even the thought of the slightest chance of me going backwards or having to go back into the fire again has brought me completely to my knees. 

It started way over a month ago, actually, more like two months ago, I began to experience some really extreme anxiety.  I say extreme because I’m very used to anxiety.  I’ve struggled with anxious thoughts and worry since I can remember, however this time was different.  I’ve only really remembered going through this kind of anxiety about a year before my diagnosis, which was in 2017.  I was in the process of getting over some really sad news over the course of the previous months and I just didn’t feel right.  It was an anxiety that would wake me up at sometimes 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning.  My stomach would feel as if it was twisting up into a knot.  The pain in my stomach would not allow me to fall back to sleep.  What bothered me the most was, in the moment, I had no cause or reason to feel such a heavy presence of doom lingering over me. It’s a kind of anxiety that has no cause or reason.  It was that same anxiety that made its grand entrance just a couple months ago. 

If I had to think of a reason why this anxiety returned, it could have been that I had some medical tests coming up, but still it was not enough to cause such severe heaviness and worry.  I’ve had routine tests every 2-3 months for the past two years.  I’m used to being poked for blood, and stripping down to lay in an MRI machine for over an hour.  I’m used to the delay in results and knowing that at any minute I will get the notification that I have new tests results.  Still, this worry was affecting me, not just emotionally, and mentally but physically as well.

Mornings have always been my most favorite part of the day.  I love waking up early, opening up the windows to let the sunshine in and preparing my morning cup of delicious warm coffee.  Once I began waking up with stomach pains caused by this horrible feeling of doom, morning time was no longer my favorite.  I even stopped drinking coffee, and anyone who knows me, knows that if I do not drink my morning cup of coffee, my day will be completely off. I will not be a happy camper.  After realizing that this was not some temporary 2 or 3 days of struggling with anxiety, and that this was quite serious and not going away anytime soon, I had to really dig deep to really grab hold of my healing.

I began to pray and search for the Lord.  The need to know what was going on inside my mind, my body, and my spirit was a strong desire that drove me to start making some serious decisions.  Mostly, the decisions I made had to do with how I was going to get myself out of this hole that I had no idea how I got here in the first place.  Like the saying goes, I may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but I certainly was not created to live there.  

One important decision I made was making the choice to begin a new exercise regime. In all my 37 years, I have always struggled with anxiety and being active was my outlet.  If I wasn’t doing CrossFit, I was at the gym, running, or riding the trails on my mountain bike.  I’ve never consulted with a medical doctor or specialist about my anxiety, but knowing the medical history of my family, I’ve always known I have a bad gene somewhere when it comes to mental health.  Staying active was my medicine, until I ended up with a blood clot, and then cancer was the final blow. 

Since the anxiety began again, I didn’t just decide on a new exercise regime, but I started eating healthier, doing yoga, meditating, and even started doing some breathing exercises.  I knew my mind was not well, and I needed to dive into the healing waters of worship, the Word, health, fitness, mindfulness, and any and every other strategy out there to get control of my mental health.  

I spent a solid 30 days taking my body and mind through a journey of healing and trusting in God, that everything is “okay.”  Every morning, I felt like I had to give myself a pep talk like, “Jessy, calm down, why are you so worried, everything is going to be okay, you are fine. God is with you, there is nothing to be afraid of.”  Some days were better than others, but I just felt so heavy burdened.all. the. time.  I even scheduled visits with a primary doctor to check my levels, and my blood and urine tests came out all in normal ranges.  This anxiety took away my morning appetite, which is completely opposite of the type of morning person I am.  I am a wake-up early in the morning and make that delicious cup of joe type of girl.  Normally, as I sip on my coffee, I would have already decided what I’m eating for breakfast, my favorite meal of the day. So, to not have an appetite in the morning was even more worrisome to me.  I decided to dive back into one of my other loves that I thought was a lost hobby, which was CrossFit.  

Fine!  You take away one of my favorite things, which is my morning cup of coffee and breakfast. No problem, I’ll just replace it with some other things I love. I certainly was not just going to sit here and wallow in this misery.  That is when I began my morning meditations with an amazing app called, SoulTime.  I got hooked up with this amazing community called, Street Parking, which is not just CrossFit at home, but CrossFit for all levels, including me and my big leg (If you know me/see me, you know about my “big” leg).  I figured, anxiety was trying to have the last laugh, so I would just force my appetite to come back one way or another.  That is exactly what I did, and what I continue to do.  I had to put on my big girl pants and fight back. I continue to fight every day until this battle is won. Whether I experience that complete triumph here on Earth or in heaven, I will continue to do my part even if it’s for a few hours or days of mini triumphs.  

I will tell you this, after 30 glorious days, of whipping my body back into shape, feeding it some good solid protein and not eating so much crappy food, meditating on the Lord, stretching, yoga and breathing exercises, I felt so much spiritual, mental, and physical growth. It felt good to conquer these areas of my life that seemed to be out of control.  My anxiety wasn’t 100% at bay, but at least I was starting to get it under control. In moments of high anxiety or when I feel my stomach uneasy and in pain, I have tools I use to keep me grounded. If I could visualize where I was after a good solid month of this overall wellness journey, I would say I was just about reaching the peak of that mountain.  I was just about ready to put up my little American flag, like “Yes, I’m reaching the summit, finally.”  

I’m just about looking over the peak of the mountain enjoying the view.  It’s beautiful up here.  I can feel the cool breeze on my face, a breath of fresh air, and one of the biggest smiles slides across my face because I’m just so darn proud of all of it.  I’m proud of all the work I’ve been willing to put in to get myself back on track and mentally well again.  I didn’t just let myself cave, I cared and loved myself enough to know that I needed to climb out of this hole I was in and reach the top of this mountain that’s standing in my way.  New season, new beginnings, and feeling back to myself, until I wasn’t.  

Suddenly, I’m no longer standing on the peak of that mountain.  That beautiful view from top completely disappeared in a matter of seconds.  It felt like a mirage, because one minute it was within my grasp, and the next, I was falling straight, spiraling straight to the bottom, right back in the valley, and there was nothing to grasp on to that would stop me from falling, and save me from this unexpected news.

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay


Written on September 14, 2018

I’m just going to write.

I’m going to start off when it all began. 

I have imagined that moment hundreds of time.  I see mom in her doctor’s office.  After Vanessa was born, she had contemplated getting her tubes tied, and not have anymore children. I mean, why not, she already had her first-born son and two beautiful daughters.  She held off, and in that time, she went through some hardships with my dad.  The day she found out she was pregnant, it was so unexpected and so unplanned.  It wasn’t the right time, and she was in shock.  From the womb, it was always a battle for my life.  I started fighting before I even realized it.  There was a night, when I believe the enemies plan was to take both mine and my mother’s life. At the time, my mom was deep in her own sadness that she wouldn’t have thought twice about her own life, but she knew that she had a life growing inside of her that deserved a chance to live.  She prayed and prayed, “Lord, not for me but for my baby, save us.” God showed up. And the plan that had been orchestrated to harm our lives was completely blocked, and we were home safe.  There was another time when my mom’s life was in danger, and despite the danger, at 8 months pregnant she did everything possible to protect her womb, to protect her baby. 

Fear became so intertwined within my soul, that it would take decades to be able to finally overcome the paralyzing, terrifying spirit of fear.

I’m 35 years old now, and I have lived a life full of obstacles, challenges, heartbreaks, and devastation but the best part about this story is despite it all, I can smile, and love, and believe, and laugh and most of all, overcome any and every obstacle that stands in my way. I stand here today with a heart full of faith, love, joy, peace, and assurance knowing that I am loved by someone greater than the things that are tangible.  Loved my someone that is extravagant, beautiful and so all powerful; protected and cared for by the Creator of the heavens, the earth, the stars and the galaxies.  The One who saw me before I was even born, who called me with a purpose and a plan that would be bigger and greater than anything most have ever seen in their lives.  A Lord, who has carried me through every storm this life has thrown at me, and who has always shown up in one way or another. He has been like that knight in shining armor, I always dreamed of, ready to love on my very soul, caress my face, and comfort me in every season of my life.  I live a life of being loved by a God that has moved mountains and galaxies and oceans for me since the day I was born, and I know He will do it again and again and again for His glory.

It was September 11, 2018, exactly two years from today that my life took a turn.

What a significant date to begin with.  I laugh now because God has always spoken to me through numbers and dates.  Anyone who truly knows me, knows this, and may even chuckle a little because when I’m about to share an experience that is so supernatural and crazy, I always say, “I told you! Numbers and Dates is OUR THING.” It is how God tells me, “Jess, that’s me! I’m here, I’m working, I have it all under control.”

What seems to be “coincidences” in my life, are actually, I believe, the greatest God Winks of all time. Just 17 years ago, America experienced its own devastating tragedy and on this same date, I would experience my own unexpected devastation.  My doctor came into my hospital room as I sat in my bed with my sister and my mom by my side. He walked in with two of his interns wearing his glasses and long white lab coat. He came to deliver the preliminary results of my biopsy that had just been performed the day before. 

Having this biopsy alone in this hospital was a miracle within itself.  God moved mountains through these doctors, just to get me admitted into the hospital, to get all the tests done that I needed, and to go in and find out what this thing in my groin was. During the biggest crisis of my life, I was placed in the palm and hearts of some of the smartest most incredible nurses and doctors that I had ever met (Except Mom, She is my #1 NURSE).  From the moment they met me, I felt like I somehow pierced their hearts, and they risked so much to help me.  It was this well-orchestrated master plan to find the answers I needed as soon as humanly possible. As soon as the biopsy was completed, they walked the tissues down to the pathology unit and a frozen sample was analyzed.

I remember that moment as if it was yesterday. He came to my room and said, “It looks as though it is a Malignant Sarcoma.” 

Wow, talk about the world coming to a standstill in that moment.  I have this defense mechanism that when I begin to hear things that my mind and spirit do not like or agree with, my whole face changes.  Although I was listening, and I can recall most of what was said, in the moment, my mind was so perplexed, trying to remain calm, and at the same time trying to process all of the information that was being given to me. 

He came to deliver the message that would change my world. A message that would try to change the world of my children.  A message that would devastate my family and those that I love most.

“I have Cancer.”

Aventura Hospital, From September 8-12, 2018, I was admitted and diagnosed. Most of these pictures were taken after I had the biopsy. I was told that the mass in my groin was a malignant synovial sarcoma. The love and smiles of my boys and my family kept me anchored to the ground. Being surrounded by them on such a devastating day filled me with so much HOPE.