This months inspiring woman is Jourdyn.
She is definitely one of the most incredible people I have ever met. I worked with her while she was going through her treatment and she always had the biggest smile on her face and was so positive. Honestly, if I hadn't already known she was going through cancer I never would have guessed it. She has such a strong spirit and amazing attitude. When I found out she wouldn't be able to have children of her own my heart ached for her. Being denied such a special gift is something that would be so incredibly hard to deal with. Her and her husband have decided that they are going to grow their family through adoption. Please share her story so we can help them find their child. She is already the most incredible mother to her students at school. She deserves to have children of her own.
Here's her story...
April 17, 2002 is a day I will never forget. It is a day that not only changed my life but altered my future. Life has definitely been full of surprises. It was pretty normal until the spring of 2002. I had spent most of my life growing up in the same neighborhood in Sandy. My dad was offered a position for a new job and we were told that we would be moving to Cedar City. I wasn’t too thrilled. All I knew about Cedar City, was that it was our last stop to go to the bathroom before we made it to my grandparent’s condo in St. George. I soon found out that the Lord had a plan for our family’s move that summer. As summer ended, and we settled into our house, and my freshman year of high school started. I was able to make some more friends. Life seemed pretty great! I had good friends, my family was loving our neighborhood, and I felt like everything was perfect. Boy, was I WRONG!
It all started when the month before I felt a strange lump under my arm. I had been a pretty healthy kid up to that point, so I didn’t think anything about it. I continued on with the activities that any 14 year old would do, hanging out with friends, family and I was involved in extracurricular activities. As time went by the lump started to become bigger and it hurt. I pointed it out to my mom, and after hearing everyone’s ideas on what it could be, we decided to go to the doctor. By the time we went to the doctor it was the size of a bigger marble. He thought that it was probably an infection and he said that he would put me on antibiotics for 10 days. We didn’t make it to day 10. After about a week the lump had tripled in size. We immediately went back in to the doctor and he said that he was scheduling me for a biopsy the next morning. I remember being afraid about what was happening. I felt alone and unsure. Growing up in an active LDS home, I asked my dad if he would give me a blessing to help calm me down. He asked one of our neighbors to come over. I still remember that blessing as if it was yesterday. In the blessing my dad said that I would be able to face the challenges that were ahead of me and that I would endure. In my head I was thinking WHAT?! I will be able to endure? What was going to happen tomorrow?
The next morning I went in for my surgery. We had family down since it was my little brother’s birthday. I was in a small post op waiting room. I still remember the frog eyes everyone had from the crying that had taken place before I came out of surgery. Surrounded by my family, Dr. Stults told me that I had cancer. I think at first it was one of those out of body experiences. I remember crying at first. Then as tears seemed to fall from everyone’s faces, I thought about the blessing my dad had given me the night before. I thought about how in tune he was to what Heavenly Father needed me to hear. I have had many blessings in my life, but this one not only saw me through my almost 15 years of treatment, but through all other trials I would face.
I went to Primary Children’s Medical Center a couple of days later. I had a central line placed in my chest and began my first round of treatment before I even work up from anesthesia. There were times I thought, how am I going to do this? I thought sometimes what did I do to deserve this? As time went on, I realized that this wasn’t a punishment. It was just something that I was going to face, and it was a test of my faith. During this time I went through pancreatitis, allergic reactions to blood transfusions, and infections in my central line. When all of my treatment was finished 64 weeks later, I was so ready to get on with the rest of my life. Imagine my shock when I went up for scans less than 3 weeks after my last treatment to find that my cancer had been found underneath my other arm. I was devastated. I couldn’t believe it! How was I going to do this all again? Then I thought back again to that blessing. I knew that the Lord would not give me more than I could handle. I saddled back up and prepared for the next chapter in my cancer journey.
This time it would be a completely different ball game than the time before. I would be receiving high dose chemotherapy, total body radiation, and bone marrow transplant. Due to one of my chemo treatments, I got a fungus in my right lung. The damage could not be fixed and it was decided that I would need to have my right lung removed. After going through this I had been preparing for my bone marrow transplant, but before I could, it was discovered that this same fungus had spread down to my left kidney. I would have it removed just days after attending Prom.
During this time of my radiation and my bone marrow transplant, I had some very spiritual experiences. I was able to grow in my faith and I learned how thin the veil is. I grew quite close to a special little girl named Anna. She and I were both getting treatment at the same time. Unfortunately, Anna passed away. After coming out from a surgery, my mom said that I was calling for her, as if I had just been with her. I may not remember everything that was seen, but I know that I was very close to her sweet little spirit. I remember one night specifically. I had been so depressed during my transplant and thinking, what is going to happen to me, what if I die from this?
Still being a young teenager, I was not equipped to handle all of it. All the loneliness, pain and anguish I felt, I said a silent prayer that the Lord would protect me and that He would allow me to live. I sat and cried myself to sleep and then I felt as if someone was sitting right next to me. I felt a warmth that I could not deny. I felt the Spirit confirm to me the things I had been taught all my life, that the Savior is real, the plan of Salvation is real, a life after this one is real. From that moment I knew two things. Heavenly Father loved me and He was aware of what I was going through, and he wouldn’t leave me alone. The other was that, I knew whose I was and where I would go if anything happened to me. I was cancer free after my bone marrow transplant until the summer before I was to start college at Southern Utah University. I cried and then just as I had the first two times before, I felt the love of my Heavenly Father envelop me and I knew that everything would work out. It was decided that there wasn’t a whole lot of options for me because of having only one lung and one kidney, as well as all the other side effects that high dose chemo had caused, that I couldn’t do this with full dose chemo anymore. I was put on a small weekly dose of chemo, I continued to do this even as I served my mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I was so blessed to be able to serve in the Independence Missouri Mission. I was able to have some of the why’s answered of going through cancer, confirmed to me. There were so many people I met that had been impacted someway by this disease. It was during this time that I realized that the trial of my cancer was a blessing in disguise, and not only meant for me but to give me the experience to help others face their battle as well.
After I came home from my mission in 2012, I was a bridesmaid at the wedding of one of my friends from my mission. It just so happened that my future husband was a groomsman. We dated for a year and then we were married in the St. George temple in June of 2013. Both Cody and I always wanted to have kids. This was hard for both of us because due to side effects from my treatments, I wasn’t able to have children. Both of my ovaries had been absorbed through my chemo treatments and there was no possible way for me to be able to carry a child of my own. Although this is something I had known about since I was 15, the full understanding of what this meant for my husband and I, was a very painful and tender realization. It was a long process for me, of trying to understand why this was happening. I am a good person, I thought, I would be a good mom, I have made good choices in my life, I have already been through so much! Each time, I watched as friends and family announced that they were pregnant. Facebook pages seemed to be source of depression, as people posted their happy news. I was so happy for them, but each time my heart would ache, as I would find somewhere alone, and quiet, I would fall apart and cry out of sorrow for what I longed to have but couldn’t. I listened to women around me complain about their pregnancies and morning sickness. I thought, I would give anything to be able to get pregnant, and all you can talk about, is how you can’t wait till this part is over!
It was one day as I was listening to a song by Katherine Nelson, called What’s Mine is Yours that I realized everyone has trials. In the song she talks about the heart ache that all women feel when they lose something. In the song it talks about a young soon to be mom who loses her baby, a young girl placing her baby for adoption, and a couple that receives her baby. I realized that each side of the experiences in this song, impact each person deeply. Then I thought back on a fireside I would give for EFY’s on my cancer. In my talk I said, “It would be foolish for me to think that all the trials I would ever have in my life would all come to me before I reached the age of adulthood.” Adoption was something that we had talked about when we got serious, but after we were married, I met with my doctor who said that In vitro was going to be very difficult for my body because of all it had been through. We went to the temple to try and seek direction in what we should do.
As I was in the celestial room, the answer came very clear to me that adoption was how we were always meant to grow our family. My husband Cody and I have been taking an adoption class online. One of the ladies that was a speaker in the class made a comment that all children are borrowed from God. I loved that because it is true, whether we gave birth to that child or not, there is truth to this message. I have learned to rely on the Lord in a different way than I ever did when going through my cancer. My faith has again been put to the test. One of my dear friends, Steve Hodson, gave me a motto at 14, which now hangs in my classroom. He told me that attitude is everything, if you think you can do it, then you can. Just as I learned with my cancer that these things are meant to give me experience, I know that through our adoption process, I will learn that all things come in the Lord’s timing but that while we wait he never leaves us alone!
My message to you, is that whatever you are going through, know that there is a purpose for it, a loving Heavenly Father cheering you on, and loved ones to support you through it all! My testimony has grown in ways I never imagined. Even as I have written my story down, I see the Lord’s hand in my life and I am reminded that He has already helped me through so much! I may not have kids of my own, but I am able to impact the kids in my classroom every day! One of my students from my first year was helping me pick up pinecones that kids were throwing in front of the school. As he and his friend helped me, I asked him how 5th grade was going. He said it was good but that he missed 3rd grade. I told him that his class was a special one, because they were my first set of kiddos. He turned to me and said, “Mrs. Pitcher it was a special year for me too!” I started crying and gave him a hug!
It helped me to see that the Lord provides us opportunities in unexpected ways. Life is full of surprises, disappointments and sheer joy! In my EFY firesides I would give, I talked about the saying that life hands you lemons so why not make lemonade. The trials that we face are lemons. We can sweeten the trials by turning them over to Christ. Although he helps us through them, that bitterness from the lemons, is not meant to be taken from us entirely. We are meant to go through them, to gain understand and learn to rely on the Lord. That is the purpose of this life for us to live! I hope that in sharing my story you will be able to look at your own life and find the tender mercies that are given to us amidst the sips of trials we face.
Follow our story at www.pitcherperfectadoption.blogspot.com
Follow our story at www.pitcherperfectadoption.blogspot.com