A few weeks after the PRAIZUM debut concert, I was faced with the news that my aunt, Hester M. Jackson lost her battle with breast cancer. I remember nights of crawling into my bed crying myself to sleep. My Aunt Hester played a significant role in my life, not only was she my aunt, but the first lady of my church. Her death did not just affect me; it affected my family and church community as well. The day of her death was the worst day of my life, which turned into the worst week of my life, and it ended up being the worst months of my life. Just when I thought things could not get worse, a few weeks after we had the funeral service for my aunt, I received a phone call that another aunt, Dezarnez Johnson-Potts had died. She had a relapse of the disease, multiple-sclerosis (a muscle disabling disease). “Auntie Dez” was my favorite aunt. Confined to a wheelchair for as long as I could remember. I always knew where I could find her and tell her the secrets of my life. I watched her suffer and never complain as she dealt with the pain, not only of the disease, but the pain of raising her only son by herself because her husband walked away. She did more for her son from a wheelchair than most parents do with the use of their limbs. I loved and admired her. I was so devastated by the news; I made my way to the hospital expecting to see my aunt for the last time, only to find out that they had revived her back to life and placed her on life support. For the next two months I continued to visit my aunt in the hospital, watching her breathing with the assistance of machines, lying lifeless on a hospital bed.
Just when I thought things could not get worse, a doctor discovered a lump in my mother’s breast. I would secretly take my mother for breast cancer biopsies, while visiting my Aunt Dez, in the same hospital, on the same floor. I really did not want the rest of my family to know because we were dealing with so much already. One month later my aunt, who was on life support, died and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The news was overwhelming. I was consumed by fear of what could happen next, angry at a God who would allow this to be, and jealousy of those who did not have to endure the pain I was experiencing. I had no desire to live. I did not care to know what the out come would be. I just wanted life to be over. All of these thoughts and emotions were built up inside to the point where I felt like I could no longer breathe.
I locked myself in my room and began to pray and cry. I remember some of the scriptures that I would hear in church, but none of them mattered. I recalled the scripture that said, “Let everything that hath breath, praise the Lord”; I thought to myself how could I praise God when I feel like I cannot even breathe. As the tears dried on my face I heard the comforting voice of the Lord say, “When you feel like you can’t breathe, I will breathe for you; when you feel like you don’t want to live, I will sustain you and I will be your Life Support”.
Today my mother is healed from cancer and I have made it my life’s goal to remind people to remember those who are afflicted with terminal illnesses and to encourage those who may be suffering. That they can choose life and that there is a God, who wants to sustain them, keep them and be their “Life Support”. [Lorenzo Johnson, Jr.]