GOD WOULD NEVER DESTROY THE FAITH OF A CHILD
by Bruce Bussell
One of our Newsletter readers e-mailed me the website for the following story. I was so moved by what happened that I e-mailed Bruce and asked him if he would give his permission for his wife’s story to be included in our Newsletter. He said he would be honoured to have it published, so here it is…..
In the last few
months that my wife fought the cancer that would
eventually take her life, God started sending Angels to give her comfort and to make a special promise to our children. The story that follows is an amazing one that is both heart-wrenching and inspirational.
The presence of Angels has been debated since the beginning of time.
I used to be sceptical of all the people who claimed to be visited by Angels,
that is, I was sceptical until an almost unbelievable event took place in the
month of November, 1997. The story began in 1989.
My wife, Candy, had battled cancer for almost 8 years. What started out as a small lump she felt while watching television one night turned into a battle for life unlike anything either of us were prepared for.
Candy was 32 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. We didn't know anything about it, how to fight it, or what it would do emotionally to our young family. We had three kids. Ross was 9, Angela was 6, and Brandon was just 18 months old. Our family was a typical little American family. I was a teacher/coach at Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, New Mexico and Candy was a third grade teacher. The kids were involved in the things most kids are involved in at that age. Ross was on soccer and basketball teams and Angela was a budding soccer star and participated on a cheerleading team. Brandon enjoyed his daily stay at his babysitters house because of all the kids he got to play with.
Candy was my high school sweetheart. We had met in our senior years and dated for 4 years before getting married. Life was good to us. We were truly in love and, most of all, loved our little family. Our normal life came to an official end the day the doctor informed Candy that the biopsy of the mass they took just a week earlier was malignant.
We knew absolutely nothing about what breast cancer could do and how hard it would be to fight. We listened to the doctor and assumed that he would do what was best for Candy. We didn't do much research. It was all left up to the doctor.
The doctor decided that Candy needed to undergo a mastectomy and then six months of chemotherapy. Candy took a leave from her teaching job to do this. At first, she thought it was a mistake to quit because the treatments had little effect on her. By the third month, I would just about have to carry her out of the doctor's office after a treatment. The 6 months came to an end and test results revealed no cancer in Candy's body. The fact that they had found no malignant lymph nodes gave the doctors reason to believe that Candy's prognosis for complete recovery was good.
They were wrong. On her three year anniversary of being cancer
free, the doctor found a lump in Candy's neck. The next 4 years were the
hardest 4 years of our lives together. When Candy's cancer returned, it came
back with a vengeance. She would undergo bone marrow transplant during this
time. Candy had to live away from home for over 6 months during the transplant.
Her treatments were in Albuquerque and that was almost 300 miles away from
From the time that Candy was diagnosed until the day she died, we made over 250 trips to distant medical care. Our kids had to be left with grandparents, brothers, cousins, and friends most of those times. Our “normal” family life had ended the day Candy found out she had cancer. There were times that the two of us would head off to Albuquerque for a check-up and we would have to stay for a week because of complications.
The cancer could not take Candy's beautiful outlook on life away from her, but it cut deep into her soul every time we had to be away from the kids for more than a day or two and, when she had to be gone for six months, her loneliness for the kids took a toll on her that I thought might make her fight even more difficult.
opposite actually occurred. Candy left a diary. In it, she wrote of her desire
to beat this disease so that her kids would have their Mom on all their
important dates; high school graduation, weddings, birth of their children,
etc. She told me of the times when she would go to bed at night, during her
bone marrow transplant, and wonder if she would be alive the next morning. She
said that there were times when she knew she could give up and die, but she
fought because of the kids.
The most difficult day for me was during the initial stages of her bone marrow transplant. Candy was given extremely high doses of chemotherapy in order to kill off all her white blood cells. After doing this for months, they would reintroduce good cells with the hope that she would be cured. Early in the chemotherapy stage, Candy begged her doctor to let her go home for the weekend. It was Brandon's birthday and she wanted to be there for his birthday party. The doctor resisted because Candy had high levels of fluid building up in her lungs and she felt that it might be too dangerous to let her go home. During that night it seemed almost miraculous when Candy's breathing returned to normal. The nework when most people would want to crawl under the covers and stay there. Her co-workers said she never complained and always had such an optimistic attitude. To this day, I still have some of her ex-students tell me she was the best teacher they ever had.
Candy had a little more than a year of good health after the bone marrow transplant. She would even tell friends that she thought she might be cured. She had become a long distance runner, she was back at work, and her motherly instincts hit new highs. I would get peeved because she seemed to baby the kids a bit too much, but when I would talk to her about it, she would tell me that she had been away from the kids for such a long time and she wanted to enjoy it the best way she knew how to.
Looking back, I can understand how a person's attitude about “ not sweating the little things” can change when faced with a big thing. Back then, I just knew I would be left with three kids who had been “somewhat pampered” during Candy’s last few years. I thought it would make my life harder after she left. What a selfish thing to think.
As the cancer treatments, the travelling, the expenses, the constant fights with our insurance company, and the emotional upheaval that cancer can cause to a family, I started to pull away from God. I got angrier and angrier toward Him. We had such a beautiful life before all this happened. My kids had to depend on grandparents, and brothers, and cousins to help raise them while Candy and I would spend most of our time away.
Candy was about halfway through the 1996-97 school year when she suddenly started having difficulty breathing when she ran. A return trip to Albuquerque revealed to us that she had pneumonia The doctors treated it, took tests, and told her she was still clean. I know today that her body was about to break down and take us on an ordeal unlike any we had ever imagined.
month after the pneumonia scare, Candy told me she was struggling to breath even
sitting in her class at school. She complained of chest pains and horrible
headaches. I called her doctor. We were told to go to our local emergency
room. After hours of waiting, a doctor informed us that Candy had pneumonia
again. He took x-rays and sent all of the reports up to Albuquerque. We
figured Candy would have to stay in the hospital for a few days but that she
would be okay once again. It was the way of life for us. Get sick, get well,
get sick, get well. At the time, I'm not sure we really gave a lot of thought
to the fact that one time she would get sick, then die.
That night, I got a call at home. It was Candy’s oncologist from Albuquerque. She told me that Candy was in trouble and that we needed to get to Albuquerque as fast as possible. I told her I could have her there the next morning. She told me an airplane would be waiting for her in an hour.
Within the hour, Candy and I were in the air. We had to leave our kids with some friends until one of our parents could come to Carlsbad to take care of them. I did not fully understand the severity of Candy’s problem until the next day.
almost died on the plane, but they kept me up in the flight cabin and would not
let me in the rear of the plane. I did not know any problems were happening.
When we got to Albuquerque, an ambulance was waiting to take us to the hospital.
The doctor was waiting. Candy was whisked off to the operating room. The
doctor pulled me off to another room and told me she thought the cancer was
around the lining of Candy’s heart and that they had to relieve the pressure or
she would die.
operation took a long time. It was near midnight when the surgeon came out and
told me Candy was resting and would be fine, for now.
He didn’t tell me the whole story. I had to hear that from Candy.
This is the point where, I believe, Angels entered the picture. The next seven months would change my life forever. I believe Candy’s sole reason for staying alive that night was to change my life and the life of our kids. If she had died that night, I think I would still be bitter toward God. The next glorious seven months would bring me closer to Him and eventually drive me to tell this story in the hopes that it will change someone else’s life too.
You see, Candy told me the next morning that she died on that operating table the night before. She said that she encountered an Angel and told the Angel that she had unfinished business. The next thing she knew, she was waking up in the recovery room. I was sceptical. I figured it was the drugs,
but things started
happening over the next seven months that convinced me that she did encounter a
Messenger of God that night and that by allowing her to live for a few months
more, God’s message would eventually be
out by the one person who hated Him the most……me.
hours of Candy relating her experience to me, her oncologist entered the room.
She told Candy that most people would never have made it through her ordeal.
She said it was miraculous for her to pull through. She described how the
cancer had attacked the lining of her heart and had squeezed the heart until she
shouldn’t have been able to breathe. Before she left, the doctor asked Candy
if she had been living right because she figured the only way Candy was alive
that day was by the Grace of God. Candy told her that she had a Guardian Angel.
Little did we know at the time that she really did have an Angel on her side.
The next few days in Albuquerque brought the realization to me that my time with Candy was short. I had a few private meetings with Candy's oncologist and was told that the cancer was spreading all over her body and there
wasn't much that would keep it at bay. The hardest thing to hear was that the doctor didn't think Candy would be alive come Christmas. She told me to enjoy the time I had left with her and to make sure that Candy had a
chance to enjoy her children. Although there would be many more treatments, I knew they were just delaying the inevitable.
The drive home was particularly tough for me. Candy seemed to be at peace though. She talked a lot about her visit from the Angel. She told me that she was no longer afraid to die because the Angel told her I would
forever be blessed and our kids would be okay. She told me that it would seem like only a matter of hours to her before I joined her. She said that a day in Heaven was like a thousand years on Earth. She said she did the
math and if I lived 40 or 50 more years, it would seem like an hour or so before we were reunited.
Secretly, I got more mad at God. I couldn't understand how He could do this. I had grown up with Candy and now I would have to live the rest of my life without her. She was in such horrible physical pain, yet she seemed
to accept it. I could not.
Candy was now on oxygen 24 hours a day. She had to have it in order to stay alive. We got her portable bottles of oxygen so she could go places.
She still wanted
to take the kids to school, go to their school functions, take them places after
school, and all the things most moms do. I was seething mad. God was surely
punishing us I thought. Today, I realize he was merely leading us in His way.
The Summer of 1997 came and we decided to go on vacation. Candy's doctor told her she could be away for no more than 2 weeks, so we went to South Padre Island, Texas. It was the greatest vacation we ever had. In fact, since we were at sea level, Candy didn't even need her oxygen. Except for the fact that she had no hair, everything seemed normal for 2 weeks.
Then the real anguish began. Within hours of returning home, Candy realized that she couldn't focus her eyes very well. We quickly returned to Albuquerque and a scan of her body revealed that the cancer had made its way into her brain. Radiation treatments were begun immediately.
The rest of the Summer and the early Fall meant lots of trips to Albuquerque and lots of time away from the family. It was heartbreaking to realize that our children weren't going to see much more of their mom. For that reason, in September, we returned home from Albuquerque with Candy's decision to not return. She decided to meet her doctor in a town closer to our home. The problem was that the doctor only came there once a month and Candy was needing once a week visits. An oncology nurse in Ruidoso administered the weekly doses of chemotherapy drugs and we would be back home before the kids got home from school.
One trip to
Ruidoso had an effect on me that will forever stay in my
thing was, the conversation we had didn't completely sink in until Candy was
gone. We were about halfway to Ruidoso on a desolate highway.
been asleep most of the trip. Suddenly, she woke up and reached over and
touched my arm. She said that she didn't feel like she was dying. She said
that it was more like “crossing over.” She explained that she had received
numerous visits from Angels preparing her for Heaven.
I listened but I refused to accept anything she said as being real. I was just too mad at God to think that He could give her any comfort at a time when it hurt her to just walk. But, I listened and didn't really respond.
Candy told me that our son was in Heaven waiting for her to hold him. I almost stopped the car when she said this. You see, our first child ended up miscarried. We never even knew if it was a boy or girl, so when she said
our son was waiting in Heaven for her, I was shocked. I asked her how she knew it was a boy. She told me her Angel let her see him. She said he was still a baby and that she couldn't wait to hold him when she got there.
You have to understand something. Candy was not on any drugs at the time. She had learned to endure her pain without pain pills. The only drugs she was receiving were her chemotherapy drugs and they didn't cause
I began to take notice of the things she would talk about. She never really said a lot, but she would occasionally tell me more about the Angels. I actually began to think that God might be trying to give her comfort, but I was still mad that He was doing this to my family.
One day in early
November, Candy excitedly told me that an Angel appeared to her while I was in
town. He took her to Heaven she said. She told me about colours
that she couldn't begin to describe. She said they were unlike anything we have
on Earth. She told me how everyone was happy. She smiled when she told me that
there was never any sadness there. Tears ran from her eyes when she told me
that it wouldn't be long before her pain was gone and she was healthy once
listened, told her
I loved her, and went outside. I cried a thousand tears and told God that I
would do anything if He would spare her life. I knew He wouldn't and that made
me even more angry.
Just a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, Candy fell one night as she walked into the living room and she never walked again. X-rays revealed that the cancer was pressing on her spinal cord. Radiation treatments were begun in order to keep it from breaking her bones.
I began carrying her wherever she needed to go. She was confined to a wheelchair. I had to help her dress, clean, go to the bathroom, everthing. She was losing her dignity and I knew it was eating her up emotionally, but she would never let anyone else but me see it.
The day before Thanksgiving, we were in the bedroom. The kids were home because of the holiday. Our parents were on the way for a visit. Candy gave me a long, hard stare. She told me she had something to say
that she knew I wouldn't like. She told me it was time. She said she couldn't go on any longer. She told me that she would be gone within the next 24 hours. Although I objected, I could see it in her eyes. The fight in her was gone. I had watched her fight this horrible disease for almost eight years. She had a determination that no Olympic athlete could display. She was my hero through this whole ordeal, but on this day, I could see that her fight was over.
I asked her what she wanted me to do. She told me to bring each of the kids in so she could talk to them. Her conversations with them were the hardest thing I have ever had to listen to. She was so calm and her love for each of them was so very evident. The kids had a hard time accepting it, but she calmed them in the way only Candy could.
youngest son told her he loved her and that he didn't want her to go away. He
told her if she would just try to live a little longer that maybe she would be
healed. He reminded her that she told him once that she thought
she would be healed. Candy patted his head and told him that she finally was going to be healed, but it was going to take a trip to Heaven for her healing to take place. Brandon asked her how he would know that she was healed. She told him to look into the sky just after she died. She told him that an Angel sent from God had promised her that a special star would shine down and he would know that she was healed, happy, and in Heaven. Brandon accepted this and left.
the other hand, was puzzled and a little angry that she would tell Brandon a
story like that. I knew Candy's time was limited on Earth, but I had to ask her
how she could tell Brandon such a story. She told me that an
Angel had visited her and told her that this would happen. Again, I countered. I told her that a number of things could happen where a star would not shine. I said she might die in the daytime. She said she was going to die on Thanksgiving night. I said it might be cloudy when she died. She said it wouldn't be. Finally, she touched my arm and said these words that I will never forget. She said, “Bruce, God would never destroy the faith of a child. Don't worry, I was promised. It will happen just as I told him.”
The rest of that day and the next day, Thanksgiving Day, is now pretty much a blur to me. The house was full of relatives and close friends. Candy started to slip away in the early morning hours. It looked like she might die
before noon. I started to wonder what I would say to Brandon.
The nurses came and by noon Candy was pretty much incoherent. She would touch the kids and smile, but she could no longer respond or talk to any one. The nurse told me she would go soon. I guess Candy heard the
nurse tell me that because she pointed her finger at me as if to say, “I told you I would die at night, don't worry.”
Candy struggled to stay alive, but night time came. I was relieved. I spent almost all my time with her as she started to slip away. At one point, I went outside. The kids were out on our patio. I told them they needed to go say goodbye to their Mom. Her time was almost over. As they went into the house, I looked up at the sky. There were no stars. The sky was full of mushroom clouds. They were big and they looked like they were boiling and growing bigger as I looked at them.
As I walked into the house, all I could think was what I would say to Brandon, but I could hear her say, “Bruce, God would never destroy the faith of a child. Don't worry, I was promised. It will happen just as I told him.” I
decided to have some faith that she was right. I owed it to her, but it nagged at me none the less.
Candy passed away about 8:15 that night. Everyone gave her their last respects, the funeral home was called, and Brandon announced that he wanted to see Mom's star. He wanted to see for himself that she was okay now. He wanted to see God's promise that she was in Heaven and was finally healthy. I dreaded this, but I went along with it.
I grabbed him in my arms and told Ross and Angela to follow me out to the front porch. A few others went out with us. As we looked up into the sky, it was full of the huge clouds I had seen just minutes before. I was about to say something to Brandon when a small clearing in the clouds appeared and, shining down at us, was Candy's Star. One star. That's it. One star. Her star, just like she said it would.
Candy was right. God would never destroy the faith of a child, and while He was at it, He restored mine.
Within an hour, the sky was clear and shining down on us were more stars than I had ever seen. I believe those stars were the Angels rejoicing that the faith of a child was kept just as promised and the faith of a sceptic had been restored.
e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would love to hear from you if this story had any kind of impact on you.
Reproduced from Romilly Fenlon’s Monthly Medjugorje Journal.