Life in the Fast Lane

A TRIATHLETE'S MULTISPORT ADVENTURES, TRAVELS, RANDOM MUSINGS, AND CHRONICLES OF HER OTHERWISE ORDINARY LIFE

A Courageous Three-Year-Old Teacher

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I've known the Lucas family for probably half my life. Jayjay, a renowned photographer in the wedding industry, became my batchmate in college and we were part of the first batch of photography enthusiasts who formed a photography ministry in church; his brother, Jeff, and my brother, Chuck, were also batchmates in high school and college, and they became close friends at church and equally involved in music ministry endeavors; their youngest sister, Tin, was also one of my really good friends in our church youth ministry, and together, we were part of a group of beach-loving girls called "The Beach Babes" (cheesy, I know); their Mom, Tita Jay, became really good friends with my mom, especially when our families both started becoming heavily involved with CCF Eastwood; Jayjay's then-girlfriend-and-now-wife, Feliz (a.k.a. "Tine" or simply "Diestro" to us), who is now one of the pioneers of engagement styling in the country, was also a good friend from our youth ministry days, and we've worked together on several events and even as co-coordinators for a friend's wedding.

In short, the Lucas family has had a special place in my family's life, as we have spent many Saturdays and Sundays together in youth ministry Bible studies, camps, retreats, and worship services through the years. It goes without saying that we've seen each others' ups and downs as well. 

So when Tita Jay passed away last December 2015 after her third encounter with cancer, it felt like we (my siblings and I) lost a second mom, and my mom felt the pain of losing not just a dear friend, but a sister.

And when we learned that Caitie, Jayjay and Feliz's three-year-old daughter, was rushed to the hospital on New Year's Day of this year, our hearts sank. 



Since January 1st of this year, Caitlin Soleil Lucas, or Courageous Caitie on Facebook, has been in and out of the hospital: from Cardinal Santos, to St. Luke's, to the National University Hospital in Singapore. Countless procedures ranging from blood and platelet transfusions to CT scans and IVIG treatments, to what seems to be hundreds of needle insertions, and multiple back-and-forth tests to determine what seemed to be a mystery illness for weeks on end — all these just paint a tiny picture of what that brave little girl has had to go through. And, may I just reiterate: she is only three years old.


Finally, a few weeks ago, a diagnosis was revealed by the doctors at NUH: Juvenile Myelomonocyctic Leukemia (JMML), a rare form of leukemia that accounts for only 1-2% of childhood leukemias each year. 

Caitie, despite that diagnosis, defines courage day in and day out. She willingly accepts what happens to her, whether it be an IV or tube insertion, or needing to fast from food for hours (even if she's really hungry) for an upcoming test, or a more painful procedure like a bone marrow aspiration. She believes wholeheartedly, with childlike faith as described in the Bible, that Jesus will heal her. And she continues to find joy in simple things like her clay creations or the paintings she gets to do from her hospital room.



Needless to say, it's been a roller coaster of a ride for the Lucas family, and even for Caitie's supporters. We continue to witness God's hand through all of this, from daily miracles, to the outpouring of love and generosity from friends and strangers. 

On my end, it's been a privilege to be part of her journey. Together with a group of people who help spearhead fundraising events (from benefit dinners to movie premieres to fitness endeavors and art auctions) and design Courageous Caitie merchandise, all of us feel not just a sense of involvement or responsibility, but we somehow get to witness God's moment-by-moment grace in Caitie's and her family's life. 

And as someone who not only follows but "participates" in her journey, I'd like to share a few of the things that I keep learning from this one-of-a-kind three-year-old:


God will choose to glorify Himself the way He wants to, not necessarily the way you envision Him to.


When Caitie first displayed symptoms that couldn't be diagnosed, I would like to think many of us imagined that God would instantly heal her in one fell swoop, with the snap of His omnipotent finger. And when that would happen, it would be tantamount to the choirs of angels in Heaven trumpeting His glorious praise. So far, this scenario hasn't happened yet. I believe wholeheartedly that Caitie is well on the way to recovery, but not in the way and as instantly as we probably envisioned from the start.

However, He has displayed His glory in various other ways: by letting people rekindle their faith in Him; by allowing others to discover Him through Caitie's courage and the family's unwavering faith; in the little miracles that Caitie experiences in terms of improvements in her health and people's kindness. God has continued to display what He can do in sufficient ways; not necessarily an outpouring of such, but more like little trickles. And if one opens his or her eyes, it would be impossible to miss how He manifests His glory in these ways.


When you pray — no, intercede — for someone, you really become personally invested in their life in unimaginable ways.


Before Caitie got sick, to me, she was simply the daughter of my friends. One of the kids I would see in Instagram and on Facebook. I saw her grow up through pictures and videos and witnessed her milestones: from crawling, to walking, to talking, to her anecdotes, to being able to choose her own OOTD's. But now, she has become so much more than that. Now that I've been praying for her and following her journey, I am expectant in terms of seeing how God will answer each prayer point. I check my phone every so often for updates from her parents via Viber; I refresh Facebook to see if there's anything new; I await messages from people regarding fundraising events or design requirements to see if I can help or if something needs my attention.

More importantly, I feel a deeper connection now to this little girl, even if she barely remembers me. I imagine a 13-year-old Caitie down the line and I am excited to see what she will be like then. I'm pretty sure I speak for everyone praying for her when I say that we all can't wait to see how God will answer our prayers six months from today, a year from today, and so on.


When you decide to pray for someone, and the journey is a long one, you realize it becomes a kind of commitment to keep praying for that person.

It's easy to say "I'll pray for you" and utter a few short words. But to unceasingly pray for someone, day in and day out, week after week, month after month, or maybe year after year? That takes dedication.

I imagine there must be such a thing as "prayer fatigue", especially when you don't see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. However, just like exercise, prayer requires discipline. The more you work on it, the more your eyes are opened to God's truths, the more you feel invested (see previous point) in the person you are praying for.


In times of trial, choosing to see the goodness of God may be a difficult, if not the most difficult, thing to do. But instead of looking at the result or expected outcome, look to Him instead.

I've heard it said before: focus on the Giver and not the gift. I admit that there are many times when I place the spotlight on blessings or results, and not on God Himself. In the Book of Hosea, it was said that “when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me” (Hosea 13:6).

I realized that maybe, when times are challenging, God may be asking us: "Are you after the answer? Or are you after My heart and what I desire?" Yes, God does want to bless and reward us (Hebrews 11:6), but sometimes He may be teaching us that it's more than enough to taste and see His goodness (Psalm 34:8) and dwell in His presence. If and how He chooses to bless us as a result of this will be entirely up to Him.


Courage isn't just an emotion. It's an attribute.

If one would be dependent on feelings, then I doubt any of us would be courageous given different circumstances. But Caitie continuously displays courage despite multiple procedures, tests, and stretches of being confined. She is obedient, she doesn't complain, and on the rare occasions she does cry (she is human after all, and a toddler at that), she remains poised and tries to understand the reasons for undergoing such procedures or tests.

Whether she knows it or not, she actively chooses to be courageous no matter the circumstance; she doesn't choose when to be courageous. She just is. And that's because, again, even if she is only three years old, her faith is mature enough to anchor itself on Christ and Christ alone.


There is still a lot of good in this world.

Oftentimes, it's easy to be jaded by people's lack of humanity. And I don't blame us for thinking or feeling this way. Just recently, there were bombings in Belgium. We hear stories of rape, murder, theft, corruption on a daily basis. We see dogs being battered and left for dead. When you make your way home, someone sneaks into your queue. From the big to the small, we've seen them all.

But then you hear of strangers who offer to do an endurance cycling event for 13 hours to raise money for Caitie. You find out that from one movie screening, another theater needed to open so more people could watch the same movie in support of Caitie, translating to more ticket sales on her behalf. You see works by talented artists who spent hours perfecting their obra maestras only to have them auctioned off for Caitie as well.

These are just some of the countless, untold stories that showcase how kind, thoughtful, generous, and giving people can be. And they make me think: how much brighter this world would be if, every day, each of us extended the same kindness and generosity to everyone we met?

How much better would things be if each of us became more Christlike in terms of selflessness, even in the smallest of actions?



It has been almost three months of journeying with this burst of sunshine (her second name, Soleil, means "sun") and I'm sure there will be more realizations, more lessons to learn as the days go on.

But I continue to hope, to pray, to wait expectantly as God works in and through this little one's life, and through those nearest and dearest to her.

Photo: Feliz Lucas

In the meantime, please continue to pray for her, and if you would like to help the family in any way, here are the ways to do so:

BDO
Jericho Jose S. Lucas
Eastwood branch
Savings Account: 003520094058

BPI
Jericho Jose S. Lucas
Katipunan branch
Savings Account: 3086 4002 06
Int'l SWIFT code: BOPIPHMM

CHINABANK
Jericho Jose S. Lucas / Christine Del Feliz D. Lucas
West Ave. branch
Checking Account: 102600000419

OFFICIAL online fundraisers initiated by friends:
1. Go Fund Me: https://www.gofundme.com/8ssauc3v
2. Generosity: https://www.generosity.com/medical-fundraising/help-for-courageous-caitie--2

And kindly check out Courageous Caitie on Facebook to stay updated on her journey.

Illustration: Yours Truly

God bless you all!

UPDATE: As of March 31, 2016, Heaven gained another angel named Caitlin Soleil Diestro Lucas.

Please continue to pray for the family's strength. They will need every boost of encouragement and comfort that they can get.

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20 comments

  1. This is my first time here to read the story of hour sweet Caitlin..I'm so sorry for your loss and I want to say I can't wait to meet her in heaven someday! The words written about her and the God she loved are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing her and her journey on fb I'm just sorry I didn't know her her this side of heaven..she sounds fabulous ❤️

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    1. I'm sure she would love to meet you someday in Heaven, and you can exchange lots of stories there. Thank you for reading! God bless you!

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  2. I felt tears rolling down my eyes as I read about this little girl on facebook. See all the news that came out made me sad and wanted to hug the mother and express my condolence. To the little girl Caite, you are now safe and free from pain. Continue to be an inspiration to us all and guide us in heaven. That we may have learned from your patience and courage. We pray foe your family that in God's own time they will accept what happened to you. As God had said. "He has plans for us."

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    1. Amen to this! And despite the short time she had on earth, she was able to fulfill what God wanted from her: and that is to draw people to Jesus, who was her source of strength. God bless you!

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  3. First time to know more about "courageous caitie",just saw a shared link on fb earlier today.And I felt sadness seeing her pics with her blessed parents.Now really realizations brought in,i love my children but will love them more and more today.Thanks Caitie for being a courageous inspiration to us.May your family esp uour parents have the strength they needed this time.My deepest sympathy.

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    1. I am sure the family is truly grateful for all the support. Please continue to pray for them. Thanks very much! :)

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  4. I only knew about Catie too early this morning. Following and reading everything made me burts into tears. I felt how sad the family is and the people she blessed are. And i am one of them. Praising God for Catie's short but purposeful life. To GOD be the glory. I will share stories with her in heaven.

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    1. Hi, Bless! You have very encouraging names. Yes, it's been a bittersweet journey for the family, but I praise God for their strength and courage despite everything. And indeed, to God be all the glory. :)

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  5. God gained another beautiful angel in heaven. Our deepest condolences.. I know how hard to loose a child. I know caitlin is in good hands.

    To Caitlin, Please Find my daughter "Ashlee". she's beautiful like you. Please hug me for her..

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    1. I'm truly sorry to hear that you've lost a child as well. I'm sure she was a darling as well. May God continue to comfort you and your loved ones. And yes, Caitlin now has a playmate in Heaven. :)

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  6. She just touched my life.A lot of realizations came into me last night as i was reading all about her.Tears fell and i just can't control it.It made me come to realized how blessed I am for having this life to live in.And i feel so sorry for all the time spent unwisely. You've taught me to fully trust in the Lord and just let His will be done unto you. You've done a great job Catie! I know you're happy now with Jesus.Thank you for being His instrument. Please say hi for me to Jesus and to God. See you in heaven someday #CourageousCatie!😘(wooooah as i was reviewing this comment,when im about to finish this one, its likE ive done this already!deja vu)

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    1. Amen to all these. Caitie (and her parents) truly lived out courage rooted in Jesus. May we live out this same courage on a day-to-day basis as well. That's her ultimate legacy and let's learn from her example. :)

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  7. one of my friend just shared a link about Catie this noon. I've red and saw all the posts and pictures of catie and it made me cry. i suddenly realize that i' m so blessed for having two hyper babies. i' m always complaining that they are so naughty but when i saw baby catie, i suddenly thanked God for keeping my babies healthy. Thank you princess for helping me realize of the good things thst God has given. may you rest in peace little angel. I will always include you and your family in my prayers.

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    1. Yes, another lesson from Caitie's short life. We mustn't take anything for granted, and like one of the tribute speakers at her wake said, we shouldn't sweat the small stuff. I'm glad Caitie's life touched you, as well as mine and so many others. Praise God. :)

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  8. This was just the 2nd day I heard about this little angel Caitie. Over lunch yesterday at work, my collegue shared about the story of courageous caitie. Since then I became curious about her amd her journey. It really made me cry and burst into tears, it is very sad yes; that a little girl who was all the potential to be used in God's kingdom has now left. But a success story that in spite of all the pain and difficulty she experience at a young age, she overcome. And now will be home in heaven with God. No pain, no tears, no diseases. You are indeed a blessing for us all our dear Caitie. Your life here on earth may be short but it became so useful and a great blessing. I do want to visit your wake later before your cremation. I hope I can drop by after Church. We will continue to pray for the your family. Good night sunshine! Smile for Jesus. God bless your family. ❤

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    1. She truly is in the best Place to be. Praise God for how she touched your life. :) God bless you, too, and please do pray for the family!

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  9. How ironic! the followers of Caitie including me who are not even friends or relatives are even the ones getting strength from Caitie's parents...Seeing them standing still, armed with faith eases our pain... when it should be the other way around. Caitie was so blessed for having them as her parents. God gave Caitie to them because He can be sure they can give Caitie the best of everything with her short life here... not just the best but beyond.... we will be missing her smiles

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    1. I know what you mean. Instead of giving the family strength, sometimes, it is we who draw strength from them. :) They are amazing that way. The family is truly grateful for everyone's support, I know it. I'll make sure to tell them that you, along with many others, send your love. :)

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  10. We are deeply saddened by your loss baby caitie. May our prayers guide your soul to our Heavenly Father. May God give more strength to your loving parents. Sincere condolences!

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    1. The family appreciates all of the support, definitely, but they'd prefer not to hear the word "condolences" since they want to celebrate Caitie's life and not dwell on how sad it is. :D Thanks for the prayers!

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