By Mylika Scatliffe
AFRO Women’s Health Writer
In March 2017 Jacqueline Eugenia Crest, known as “Jackie” to loved ones, was diagnosed with a form of Stage 4 metastatic lung cancer, most often seen in lifelong smokers and Asian women. She was neither. That night in March 2017, her doctors told her husband to gather her children and loved ones to say final good-byes. Her youngest son, thousands of miles away from her Baltimore hospital bed in Honolulu, Hawaii was on a plane within two hours of receiving the urgent text message. Later that night, Crest was calm, lucid, and alert, telling her steady stream of visitors, “I don’t know why the doctors told y’all to come here, I’m not dying.”
Lung cancer is a sneaky, insidious disease. It’s the second most common cancer, but one of the hardest to detect since you can’t see or feel the lungs. It usually isn’t diagnosed until it causes symptoms that don’t usually occur until the cancer has become quite advanced. Crest was a hairstylist and had always been relatively healthy until she fainted one day while working. She went to the hospital, had a brain scan and all was ok. Until it happened again some weeks or months later. After additional scans and tests she was given the cancer diagnosis and told the cancer had spread throughout her body to her brain, liver and bones. The doctors said Crest likely would not live through that March night. Stage 4 metastatic lung cancer has about a 7% five-year survival rate. Crest would go on to live another 4 years and one month after the doctors gave her 24 hours to live.
One doesn’t have to be blinded by science to know lung cancer is a beastly thing. Such widespread metastasis is painful, yet Crest didn’t complain much. Her two eldest children, Brandon Sampson and Crystal Marvin, said they realized later how much she downplayed the pain she was experiencing in order to spare her loved ones worry. She may have downplayed her struggles, but Crest dealt with pain from the widespread metastasis, mini strokes, blindness in one eye, chest pain from her lungs filling with fluid and shortness of breath.
Crest had many talents, one of which was writing. She especially loved writing poetry even as a girl. She also had, more importantly to her, a deep, unwavering faith and love for God. She always knew she wanted to write a book to share and teach about her faith and inspire others to overcome the stressors of life by drawing closer to God, even while she was dealing with her illness. “My mother wanted the world to see her as one of God’s vessels,” said Marvin. Sampson recalled, “She would keep notes in her iPhone so that when she was ready to write the book, she would stay true to her ideas.”
As she grew sicker, she became more determined to finish the book. “She had a deep faith, we all did because that’s what my mother taught us; but she was facing her mortality, and we all had to deal with the reality of what was about to happen,” said Sampson. With a sense of urgency, Crest began writing the book in August 2020. She was able to complete it, even though she did not live to see it published.
On January 4 of this year, what would have been Crest’s 58th birthday, her children celebrated her legacy with the book launch and release of Overwhelmed? Overcome! Overflow! on a Facebook page named Jacqueline Eugenia. This page was developed by her children in order to honor her legacy and for as many people as possible to be inspired by Jacqueline Eugenia’s faith.
After hearing her story, you might think the book is just about her journey with lung cancer. According to her children, Crest’s desire was to share with as many people as possible how she was able to overcome the stressors of this world. She drew on not only her cancer fight, but her entire life experiences, even those as a young girl. In the book preface Crest said, “My goal in writing this book is to impact each of you in such a way that you will be free of the ‘Exhausting Force’ called stress!”
Crest lived her life in such a way that people would see God’s love shine right through her. She was not ashamed of her faith, and more importantly she wanted to share it with as many people as possible. She wanted to inspire others to draw closer to and rely on God. The book describes situations beginning from Crest’s childhood that caused stress. From being bullied because of her height, intelligence, and favor with teachers to starting high school, her brief college career, cosmetology school, finding a job, and surviving a bad economy. The book begins with the definition of stress and how it overwhelms us. Next, she uses scripture references to offer guidance on maintaining peace to overcome stress and finally scripture references for “walking in the overflow.”
She’s careful to admonish the reader that life has struggles, disappointments, and obstacles and that she was not exempt from experiencing any of them. Crest wanted to convey that through prayer and relying on God anyone can live a life of overflow without being overwhelmed.
If you ask anyone to describe Jackie, you will hear words and phrases like “kind,” “sweet”, “genuine,” “had a light about her that drew people to her,” “she walked the walk, didn’t just talk about it.”
She once said, “If the Lord sees fit to use little old me from Sequoia Avenue so others will see Him, then His will be done.”
Overwhelmed? Overcome! Overflow! is available on Amazon.com
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