Destiny ...by design or chance?
  Linda Davis
They walk among us
June 2017

Special thanks to Sephra Alexander for contributing to this article.

Let's contemplate the notion of destiny. Do our lives unfold by design, wrought by the inescapable hand of "a Powerfuller" than we or are they as susceptible to mere chance and happenstance as the rolling of a die?

Actually, several of us believe we have a destiny.

In the first of many stories featured in the highly inspirational and thought-provoking series They Walk Among Us the Paradise Pulse team looks at the life of an ordinary person who has an extraordinary story to relate about her experiences and exploits. Whether the final outcome of her account is more convincingly by design or chance, you decide.

 

Miraculous Healing or Medical Science?

We have often heard of healings and other occurrences whose explanations would be formidable or, as some would posit, impossible, without the element of a supernatural being or force acting/being put to work, to that end. Undoubtedly, many have refuted such schools of reasoning and have sought to establish natural grounds on which there can be identical results, in the same circumstances. Our concern is which of these arguments is sufficiently sound to withstand close scrutiny.

 

Once Upon a Time...When Fairytales Bloom

So enough with the fluff! Meet Sharon Mohan.

Sharon had the perfect life. She was married to the guy of her dreams and had three beautiful children, Rebekah (the eldest), Zachary and Alex (the youngest). She was also gainfully employed as a Project Manager at one of the leading construction firms in Trinidad. A bed of roses? Hunky dory? Easy like Sqeezy?... Whatever you call it, this sublime sequence of serendipity was no exception to the virulent vicissitudes of life.

 

Trouble in Paradise

So on with it, shall we?

In 2011, Sharon observed a lump in her breast. Being wary that this could signify a fatal blow to her fairytale fortune, she decided to have the area examined at her doctor's office. But it was too late. Sharon was struck with breast cancer. She now staggered about in an unfamiliar world of affliction, bewildered as the good life she had once embraced retracted to become quite estranged. Shocked to reality with the said prognosis, she was inconsolable; her cries irrepressible, her journey now formidable.

As she made her way home, numerous thoughts clouded her mind. The first was the well being of her children — Alex was only 6 months old, Zach was four years old and Rebecca was nine; all of them needed their mother. And what of her husband? How would he cope with all this pressure? These anxieties played and replayed like a broken record. She was no longer concerned with the latest trendy clothes or the newest Hollywood icon. She didn't even care what would be happening on her return to work. These things didn’t matter anymore.

Then there was the “Why is this happening to me?" “What did I do to deserve this?” “I must have done something wrong”. But there was no answer to assuage her overwhelming perplexity at this sudden violent assault. Life didn't even give a response.

When Sharon finally arrived home, her despair knew no bounds. She cried and cried and cried. She grappled with the notion of crossing the most difficult hurdle she'd encountered in her life: telling her husband and children that she had cancer.

 

The Road to Recovery

Her doctor tried to give her some hope. He advised that she could undergo surgery to remove the lump, which she opted to do in the latter part of 2011.

Her life now consisted of little more than a series of tests and being prepped for surgery. She then endured a 5 cm diameter breast mastectomy (surgery to remove a breast or part thereof, normally used to treat breast cancer) followed by six sessions of chemotherapy and twenty rounds of radiation treatment.

However, this notorious disease was no easy opponent. In 2012, Sharon experienced yet another scare, with a second lump appearing and necessitating emergency surgery for removal.

 

Family Matters

Sharon’s life was drastically changed. Often debilitated by intoxicating spells of fatigue, she was unable to take proper care of herself and her children. Activities and pastimes that she once took for granted seemed to drift further and further into the realm of the unattainable. She longed to play with her baby and other children, like a regular mother would, but they all naturally grew distant from her. Alex would cling to his daddy, who was often also bombarded by the concerns, discoveries, creations and questions of Zachary and Rebekah. Despite the family's efforts to include her in all their activities, the reality was that to a considerable extent, Sharon was forced to remain helplessly on the sideline of their development while she rested and waited for a wind of change.

 

The Element of Faith

When asked how she felt having to go through the entire ordeal, her response reflected pure desperation: “I did not have a choice...I just wanted to get better”. That wretched feeling made her personal resolutions straightforward enough — "Listen to my doctors and pray a lot".

Sharon attests that her faith in God furnished her with the fortitude she needed to brave the battlefield which was constantly before her. She identifies this spiritual value as the source of her solace, when there was no one who could possibly conceive her hurt, fear and devastation. Sharon recalls vivid memories of being enveloped in reassuring peace when she prayed. In these moments, she was reminded that everything would be alright. She also valued corporate prayer and fellowship with church members. She always felt physically stronger while at church, so get this — the lady never missed a church service!  

 

A Partner's Perspective

This may lead one to ponder: where exactly did Sharon's burdens fall when she cast them with saintly trust in the kindness of providence? Did she, in doing so, inadvertently impose a Sisyphean task on the physically, emotionally and psychologically grappling Mr. Mohan?

When asked how he managed his roles as a husband and father amidst the torrential experience, Mr. Mohan admitted: "It was challenging. Inside of me, it was as though had someone dropped a bomb, but I tried to be as strong as I could. Because of this, I always hid the way I was actually feeling."

As Sharon's husband accompanied her to hospitals and sessions of chemotherapy, the sight of his suffering wife and several other terminally ill persons amounted to nothing but torment to him. He could not help but question how and why an individual would have to be mangled under the virulence and indignation of such insupportable pain.

Mr. Mohan was even more overwhelmed upon learning that Sharon needed to undergo her first major surgery for the second time. These successive blows were almost crippling but for the sake of his loved ones, he pressed on in hope. This peculiar persistence enabled him to weather the storms of coping with his wife's hair loss, watching her sleep and weighing the probabilities that would ever awake, supporting a family with increased expenses despite reduced income and mentoring three children as they conveyed different ways of expressing their own pain:

Rebekah, much like her father, masked her feelings; this she did, often, by showing no emotion at all and listening to music. Zach, as young as he was, began to display aggressive behaviour at school, which, his father eventually observed, always occurred on the specific days when the lad knew his mom was at the hospital. Alex felt as though his mother abandoned him, beginning at that time when she was unable to breastfeed him after only seven months.

However, little did Mr. Mohan know that his family's trial would be the vehicle through which he would brought to embrace an entirely different spiritual walk from any he had previously known, a decision to which he remains committed today. In the critical valley which appeared to be so narrow that there was room only for him, he petitioned God's intervention and soon after elected to espouse Christianity as a way of life.

When asked what advice he would offer to spouses of individuals suffering with cancer or similarly severe illnesses, Mr. Mohan encouraged:

  •   Put complete trust in God and be persistent in fighting the disease; consider it your mission to defeat cancer because it can be defeated.
  •  Foster love and unity within the family. Never exclude the ailing spouse, even if this means forsaking the dinner table — where the patient may not be strong enough to walk to — and having the meal in the room to which he/she is essentially bound.
  •  Be transparent in communicating with the patient's children concerning his/her health. Let them know when he/she needs to rest. Tell them the consequences of not working with the patient. Remember, however, that what these children need is transparency, not trauma. (I did not tell my children when Sharon had to redo her first major surgery or when she almost died while being operated on.)
  •  Keep lines of communication open between you and your spouse. Ask your partner how he/she feels.

 

Triumph at Last

The years of taut teamwork among parents, children, extended family and doctors have finally achieved the desired result. It has now been six years since her initial diagnosis and numerous blood tests later there are no cancer cells present in her body. Sharon Mohan is now cancer-free!

 

Reflections of a Cancer Survivor       

Today, Sharon reflects, "My family, both immediate and extended, never treated me as though I was ill; I was grateful for this form of support. I continued functioning in my secular job throughout my treatment and also received a great deal of support from my employer: He never hesitated to grant the time-off I needed to attend treatment sessions and assisted me with drivers to and from the hospitals. He was very understanding in instances where I could not perform optimally and like my family, never sought to remind me that I was sick.

With respect to the healthcare system, I must mention that although my diagnosis and initial treatment were done privately, the other medical services that my condition required were rendered through the public sector and were well executed. I fell into the public system for my chemotherapy treatment because it was more affordable than the private sector's offer of $20,000.00 per session. The service I received was of greater quality that one would normally expect from public medical institutions and was particularly outstanding at the St. James facility, where the healthcare professionals were very competent, efficient and patient oriented. Even when I refused to do long term hormonal treatment because of its disadvantages, they respected my wishes and continued to work with me to ensure progression in my health."

 

Sharon in the Now

She continues to be an asset at her construction firm, managing several of its major undertakings. Her life is once again the way that she dreamt it to be.

Was it her destiny to have cancer? Was it the inevitable fruit of some heinous deed she committed? Sharon believes that the purpose of this experience was to bring hope to people in similar situations.

 

Miraculous Healing or Medical Science?

So now for the big question, Sharon!

Were you miraculously healed or was your recovery brought about by medical science?

Her answer: "While I believe that medical science played a part in my recovery I am persuaded that I did receive a miracle. There are people who do not survive cancer despite the best efforts of medical science, but with God all things are possible.”

The following are her words of encouragement to current cancer patients or individuals who may identify in other ways with this inspiring account: “Continue to be strong and pray. There is a whole new life waiting for you.”

Sharon remains in high praise of her husband, children, extended family, friends, fellow church members and others, who stood by her and supported her throughout her battle with cancer.

Special thanks to Sephra Alexander for contributing to this article.

By: Linda Davis | They walk among us | June 2017


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