In 1987, Raquel “Jing” Egenias underwent a hysterectomy at the age of twenty-seven. She felt downcast that her hope to have future children was gone. She had turned down her friend, Liza Buising’s many invitations to attend a bible study at AIM (Asian Institute of Management) where Ptr. Vic Quisumbing taught weekly. This time, she ran out of excuses and decided to attend. After a few sessions, Jing’s loneliness disappeared and she felt peace.
She says that the greatest impact to her during that period of coming to know the Lord was that she was forgiven of her sins. “Kung ano man yung kulang, ok na ako. (If there are other things missing in my life, I am already fine)”. For the next eighteen years, she continued to be immersed in God’s Word.
In 2006, she was diagnosed with Stage 2a Breast Cancer, not immediately realizing that God mercifully equipped her for this appointed time through the years of knowing His Word.
Butterflyinthespring had this chat with her:
BUTTERFLYINTHESPRING (BITS): What went through your mind when you heard the news?
RAQUEL “JING” EGENIAS (RE): Una, umiyak talaga ako kasi may sentence ka na. (At first, I really cried because there was already a sentence on my life). But I was able to accept that that was God’s will for me .
BITS: How did acceptance come?
RE: Ang feeding natin sa (Our feeding at) CCF, ‘God loves you no matter what happens to you, He will never leave you nor forsake you. In this life you have many trials, but consider it pure joy. All things work for good. So yun lang ang pinanghawakan ko na mahal ako ng Dyos. (I held on to the truth that God loves me).
BITS: Who disciples you?
RE: Sasa Felipe. I really feel God’s love for me through her. She always prays for me and thinks of me. My whole D12 group is a also such big help for me.
Meron din akong peace noon kasi bukod sa forgiveness of sins, isa pang nawala sa akin yung fear of death kasi dati takot akong mamatay. (I also had peace because besides the forgiveness of my sins, I overcame the fear of death; I used to be afraid to die). I felt secure in His love.
BITS: How did you overcome your fear of death?
RE: When I came to know that I have eternal life through Jesus Christ being my Savior. We don’t know the manner in which God will take us home. I just say, “Lord, receive my spirit” because now I’m having a hard time. My cancer now metastasized to my bones. I’m on chemo, third round. At first, I had alternative treatment. Nag-ok naman ako. Nag-remission. Kaso balik ka sa lifestyle, puyat, stress sa work, hindi pwede kasi yon sa (My cancer went in remission. However, you go back to the old lifestyle with stress and lack of sleep… that can’t be for) cancer patients.
Now I’m Stage 4. Everyday when I wake up, my prayer is, ‘Lord, thank You for this additional day. But I know this is also an additional day before I see you and be with you in heaven forever.’ Dapat handa ka lang (You should just be ready that) anytime you can go.
BITS: Ganon naman yata tayong lahat diba, kahit walang cancer… yung iba natutulog lang o tumawid lang? (Aren’t we all like that even without cancer, some are sleeping, some just cross the street and they go)?
RE: Yes. Because of that, God impressed in my heart to pray first and foremost for salvation of people. If I’m unable to share the gospel with them, at least I get to pray for their salvation so they can have eternal life. I also pray for physical healing but even if their physical ordeal ends, if they do not have eternal life, sayang lang (that would be a waste).
I can’t go out much now because it’s too hard for me to travel. But I’m happy that I can still be productive by praying for others.
My cardio said, “Ang bagal mo.” Parang nagulat pa sya buhay pa ako. (You’re slow. It was a surprise to her that I was still alive.)
BITS: Ano ba yon? (What kind of a comment is that?)
RE: Minsan nagtataka sila, ‘bakit buhay ka pa?’ (Sometimes they wonder why I’m still alive)
BITS: Grabe naman yon. Baka ibig sabihin na-susurpass mo yung (Oh that’s extreme. Maybe they mean that you are surpassing) what’s natural. Because God is supernatural. Did you see His faithfulness during your trial?
RE: Sobra sobra! (Exceedingly abundantly!) Yung faithfulness ni God, talagang sobra sobra (God’s faithfulness is really exceedingly abundant) Nung naoperahan ako, nag outpour yung provision Nya, kahit hindi ko kilala, nagbigay. Lahat sa officemates, mga relatives, siblings; mahal ang treatment pero sinustain ako ni Lord. (When I was about to be operated on, there was an outpouring of His provision… Even people I didn’t know… they gave… everyone from my officemates, relatives, siblings. Treatment is expensive but God sustained me.)
BITS: Where did you work before?
RE: I was Export Coordinator at URC Universal Robina Packaging Division for ten years.
God didn’t allow me to go to relatives to borrow money for the treatment. He really provided everything. Grabe. (Amazing!) My former boss and officemates, until now they still give me love gifts. Kung tutuusin, dapat hindi na sila magbigay kasi hindi na kami (Come to think of it, they should not be giving me anymore because we are no longer) officemates but they still support me. I’m so thankful to them.
I realized, “I’m going to be ok. God won’t forsake me. He will take care of me.”
In 2011, the alternative doctor asked me to resign because my work adds to my illness. Praise God, wala na akong work noon (I was no longer employed then) but what I received in love gifts [voluntary cash gifts given by people who are moved by God] was more than my annual income. Grabe (Amazing) praise God! Pag pinag-uusapan yon, naiiyak talaga ako kasi grabe. May secret ako dyan. (When that is discussed, I really cry because it’s so amazing. I have a secret about that) [Jing was vacillating whether or not to tell me then decided that because it would glorify God, she would go ahead and tell me]. I tithe from whatever love gift I receive. I really saw God’s faithfulness. Even when there’s nothing left, I set aside what’s for God; I will not touch it. Then I get asked [by people], “What’s your bank account number?’ Sometimes I don’t know who deposits money in my account, I get anonymous love gifts. Talagang si Lord. May mag-aabot lang sa akin. (It’s really God. Someone will just hand me [a love gift]). I can’t outgive God.
I’m also very thankful for my sister, Thelma and brother, Francis … they’re my biggest supporters. They really encouraged me. I didn’t want to go through chemo. If not for them, I wanted to just have palliative treatment [pain management, pain relief]. They really wanted me to go through chemotherapy and supported me in every way.
Aside from that, God is faithful to give me patience and endurance. Kasi ang hirap. Talang ang hirap… (because it’s hard. It’s really hard.)
RE: Oo ang hirap. (Yes, it’s hard.) I’m on morphine ’round the clock. Yet, it’s still hard. The pain doesn’t really go away. I’m thankful for the sustaining grace of God.
Sometimes I hear of worse cases than mine. Sometimes when I have a hard time eating, I hear of someone whose stomach got operated on so the food will go directly to the stomach, I am reminded to thank God for sparing me of those. There is grace to count. Sometimes, I’m in so much pain and I get to sleep. That’s a grace. ‘Lord, hele mo po ako. (Lord, please lay me down to sleep like a baby).’ Later I’m unaware, I already fell asleep. I just I wake up after one hour pero maski papaano narerelieve ako ng (but somehow I’m relieved of the) pain when I get to sleep. One hour’s relief from pain is already a lot. Ang sakit pala sa bones (I realized it’s so painful when cancer is on the bones).
God taught me to be joyful. I do not need to get healed in order to be joyful. I can be joyful even in my circumstances.
RE: That’s what Jesus wants: His fullness of Joy is with us. We trust Him no matter what happens. Sometimes it’s really hard, in pain, I get irritable, I don’t know how to position my body. My back, my sides are painful. But I told myself, ‘Why should I allow myself to be miserable?’
BITS: Did you ever go through a phase when you wondered about God’s goodness?
RE: No. I was saved. I know that Jesus is in my heart. I can’t have faith based on head knowledge alone. I need to live out my faith by believing.
BITS: When you have a discouraging day, how do you get out of discouragement towards joyfulness?
RE: Renewing of my mind. I recite biblical verses. Recall God’s promises. There are times when I get discouraged because it looks like I will not get well, it’s like the pain will be go on straight to forever. The morphine is habit-forming so I just take half the dosage. I play praise songs. When the CT Scan results are not good, I recite
Habakkuk 3:7 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
BITS: If you could share any message with your family and friends, officemates, what would it be?
RE: Surrender your life to Jesus Christ. At Life to the Max (CCF’s ministry for cancer and chronic degenerative illnesses), we get text blasts for prayer requests for family or friends of members regarding their specific situations. I pray for those needs but I really feel that the most urgent need of people is to have assurance of eternal salvation.
BITS: How does Life to the Max benefit a member?
RE: Life to the max brings you closer to God and know Him more because there is a short bible study every Sunday. It teaches you about wellness and how to take care of your body. It is not only for cancer patients but also for their families as well. Before the session ends, there’s a group discussion which also serves as a support group and members are prayed for. Life to the max gives hope to everyone because it teaches you to have a meaningful life in Jesus Christ. I learned to serve God through this ministry by praying for others- their healing and salvation. Life to the max has also supported me financially and I’m so grateful for that.
BITS: What do you pray for for yourself?
RE: I pray for relief from pain…that God sustain me.
BITS: Do you have a favorite verse?
RE: I have so many. But if I can only choose one, it’s Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
BITS: Do you have any message for anyone who is new on the cancer journey?
RE: Cancer is not the end. What’s important is you get to know Jesus more through your cancer. Cancer is a blessing because you get to prepare for your eternal life… the one that outlives and defeats cancer.
BITS: How would you define “Full Life”?
RE: Full life for me is being content and able to accept whatever situation I am in and being joyful at the same time because I know that Jesus is with me.
BITS: Do you think you have full life?
RE: Yes, I am living it now because of His sustaining grace.
Jing’s faith is remarkable. The perspective it gives her regarding her circumstances is a great inspiration. Truly, we should not be judging God based on the passing circumstances we are in but we should judge our passing circumstances based on the character of God (from what I remember Pastor Peter Tanchi taught). It is a privilege to be a witness to how Jing lives out what she knows from God’s Word. As she said, “hindi pwedeng puro head knowledge lang (we can’t have a faith that’s all in the head but we need to put it into practice).”
Jing may not have a chance to have biological babies but she has spiritual children, women with whom she shares God’s Word and her faith to encourage them to exercise their faith in their own life circumstances as well. Jing is an example that fruitfulness does not have to be limited by the condition of the uterus but on the womb of faith. And that no death sentence can hinder the full life that Jesus wants to give you if you only receive it.