CJís Story (updated 12/18/02)
This is the story of a very courageous woman named Cynthia J. Maurer. I met "C.J." as the result of Lee Elder of AJWRB referring her to me as she needed friends and support. She had been suffering with ovarian cancer and had just disassociated herself from the Watchtower Organization during 2001. C.J. became a born again Christian and had accepted Jesus Christ as her true Savior.
I first contacted C.J. around January, 2002 and began to correspond with her by emails. Her first email to me had the subject header, "From another Cynthia". I bonded with her right away, as my name is also Cynthia, but C.J. always went by her nickname of "C.J." and preferred to be called by her nickname.
CJ was a JW for more than 25 years and faithful in every way. She was always a "sister in good standing". Her first husband committed suicide in the 1970ís after being disfellowshipped for smoking. Originally from Indiana, she had been living in Tucson, Arizona the same town where I grew up. She had two young children left at home, a son, Derrick, 13 years old and a granddaughter, Jamie who is 10. She also had two daughters in their 20ís, Rebekah and Lily.
CJ was a JW for more than 25 years and faithful in every way. She was always a "sister in good standing". Her first husband committed suicide in the 1970ís after being disfellowshipped for smoking. Originally from Indiana, she was living in Tucson, Arizona the same town where I grew up. She has two young children left at home, a son 12 years old and a daughter who is 9. CJ is only 50 years old and is suffering from ovarian cancer.
About two years ago, CJ decided to remarry after many years of being single and raising her children alone. Her two older daughters were already grown, and she had only the two younger ones left with her. She was proposed to by a "brother" whom she had known for many years who lived in Indiana, where she originally became a JW. She thought this was what she wanted and this would be the person who would make her happy. She had no reason to believe any different, this was a "brother" who was also a "Ministerial Servant" in the congregation! CJ accepted his proposal of marriage, sold all of her belongings in Arizona, and moved back to Indiana to marry this "brother".
CJ was married at the Kingdom Hall and she thought this was the beginning of a wonderful life! Then, six weeks after the wedding, she was unfortunately diagnosed with ovarian cancer and needed a complete hysterectomy to save her life and keep the cancer from spreading. Her illness was a complete shock to her new husband, such a complete shock that he decided he no longer wanted to be married to CJ. She found herself living in a homeless shelter with her children, one month after having the hysterectomy. Where were the other Jehovahís Witnesses in this situation? They were no where to be found!
Being a good Jehovahís Witness sister that she was, when CJ had her surgery she told the doctors, "no blood transfusions". She was very adamant about it because she thought she was following Godís laws and wanted to remain in good standing with the Watchtower Organization. It was an unthinkable idea to accept blood and lose her place in "paradise". After the surgery, however, CJís surgeons explained to her that since she could accept no blood that the surgery had been "incomplete". Surgeons were able to remove her ovaries and uterus, but were not able to do any "exploratory surgery" to ascertain where the cancer may have spread to and remove that as well. If one knows anything about ovarian cancer, you know that ovarian cancer is a "silent disease". A woman can be in the 3rd or 4th stage of cancer before there are symptoms and the cancer is finally discovered. It is a very deadly disease; think about Gilda Radner and Madeline Kahn and their battles with ovarian cancer.
The consequences of having an "incomplete" surgery for removing the ovarian cancer, were quite grave. CJís doctors explained that since she refused the blood transfusions, she had shortened her life considerably since they had to leave any residual cancer in her body. Hearing this came as a shock and a "blow" to her since she knew she was responsible for raising her children alone. This is the information she needed to wake her up from the Watchtower way of thinking. If there is one thing that a mother asks for in life, is to remain alive and well to raise her children to adulthood. Now she knew this wasnít going to happen. It was no longer good enough that she assured herself a place in "Watchtower Paradise" by refusing blood transfusions. CJ was now looking death in the face, much earlier than she ever expected.
The caveat to this story is that it is probably true that CJ would never have left the Watchtower Organization if she hadnít contracted ovarian cancer and had this horrific experience. She would have gone on being a "sister in good standing" and would never have bothered to investigate whether or not the Watchtower really taught the "truth". She just assumed that it was the TRUTH!
I had made a point of trying to telephone CJ as often as I could besides writing emails. I had visited her as well at her apartment in Tucson on two separate occasions. She just turned out to be the most lovely and enjoyable person to know.
Around the time of my visit with CJ on April 6th, 2002 she was starting to get some headaches. They became very painful, so she informed her doctor. Last Thursday April 18th, she went to have an MRI done to check for possible brain cancer. The bad news is that she does have some cancerous lesions in her brain. The good news is that the lesions are small and doctors think that they can treat them with radiation to eradicate the cancer from her brain.
I received an email from C.J. in late April, and this is what she told me:
"He (her doctor) is such a sweetheart, a real healer, with encouraging words and reminders to continue doing all my alternative things to support the radiation I will be starting this week. NO surgery. Maybe a gamma knife thing in Phoenix. We both agreed that this is just another phase of my illness that I am going to get through. Your prayers are working. My children are systematically being networked and progress is being made toward their care. We are happy spiritually, although I wouldíve liked to have gone to church this morning. I posted the prayer you sent to me above my computer and read it regularly. Praise God for your kind and sincere heart, Cynthia. He uses you in your ministry to others and I am sure you have no doubt about that. He is clearly
your confidence and guide. Thank you for being here for our family. IN Christ, CJ"
C.J. went through her round of radiation treatments and the gamma knife treatment with such a good attitude. I visited her again on May 18, 2002. She was in great spirits even though she had lost all her hair again. It was the last time I would see her up and around. I continued to telephone her and keep up with what was going on. I also asked her to put my name and phone number handy as I wanted to be informed immediately if she was going to take a turn for the worse.
On November 27, 2002, I received a phone call from a friend in Tucson letting me know that C.J. was about to enter hospice care. She had called him to let him know that she was on her "last legs" and she asked him to call me. It was Thanksgiving weekend, and I couldnít go out there at that time. So I made arrangements to get out there the weekend of December 13th. Iím glad I did because it was to be the last time I would see her.
CJ was told earlier in the week that I was on my way out to see her and her daughter told me that she was quite excited that I was coming out to see her. I loved CJ as a sister in Christ with all my heart. How could I not go out and see her? I had been in contact with friends in Tucson and we were just very sad that this was the end of the line for CJ. When I arrived there, CJ was not able to speak or respond. However, Rebekah her daughter told me that she was quite aware of what was going on around her and that she could hear and understand everything. So as Rebekah stepped aside so that I could spend time with CJ, I was able to take CJ's hand and talk to her.
I cried as I held her hand and prayed for her. This lady had just become so precious to me in my eyes. CJ, throughout this whole ordeal had the most marvelous, positive and peaceful spirit about her. She never once complained about where life had taken her or had any bitterness toward anyone or the fact that she spent many years as a JW. I will always hold her in great admiration for the strength that she displayed and especially the love of Christ that just radiated from her.
I had a dream about CJ the night before I went to see her. In my dream I had gone to visit CJ, but she was not at a hospital or at her apartment. I had an address for her but the address was this great big house. I rang the doorbell in my dream and CJ answered the door. She looked beautiful, radiant and the picture of health. Her hair was long and flowing and even more beautiful than the pictures I had seen of her before she became ill. In my dream I was so very astounded! She led me into her large, spacious home and to a kitchen that is everyone's dream gourmet kitchen. She had just made some iced tea and was going to pour me a glass. I just kept asking her what happened? How is it that she was completely well? In the dream she explained that God had healed her from the cancer and that she was now cancer free. It was an amazing recovery!
I told CJ about this dream. I believe that this dream was a picture of what was going to be in heaven for her. The "many mansions" that Jesus talked about? Well this was her heavenly mansion! CJ was the picture of health and there was no more pain and death was no more! So I told her that is what was waiting for her there.
Sunday morning (December 15th) I received the news from friends in Tucson that CJ had passed away during the night. Rebekah, her daughter had called to let him know that C.J. had died in peace and had a smile on her face when she found her mother. I am very thankful for the time that I could spend with her that day. I'm thankful that God kept her alive so that I could see her this one last time. I know that she is in heaven now with God and she's happy. No more pain, and no more suffering. She has her final reward!
I just want to thank each and every one of you who remembered CJ in your prayers. I especially want to thank the dear friends in Tucson who kept me informed of the situation when CJ took a turn for the worse. My love goes out to CJ's daughters, Rebekah and Lily. Also to Derrick, her 13 year old son and granddaughter, Jamie. Please remember the surviving family as they start to deal with losing CJ. It's going to be rough for them.
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