By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
Jody Knowles has faced many challenges in her life: she has been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, and prior to that, she lost her home due to medical bills incurred by treatments for her autistic son. But the mother-of-three refuses to give up the fight.
With a loving family to live for, she is intent on battling on. To help her in her fight and to defray medical costs, Jody, together with her family and friends, is planning a star-studded "Metamorphosis" concert on Sunday, November 5, at the Bahamas Harvest Church West campus on John F Kennedy Drive.
A number of musicians, including Sherwin Gardiner, Nigel Lewis, Monty G, Ricardo Clarke, Denczil Rolle and Friends, Sammi Starr, the Harvest Generation Praise Team and Dancers, Nehemiah Hield, Kim Welcome, Judah Tha Lion, Dana Knowles, and others, will take the stage of an evening of song, interpretive mime, spoken word and dance. The concert will begin at 7 pm.
The event also aims to help those living in the 'cocoon' stage of cancer - persons who feel alone and isolated due to their diagnosis - to break out of their shell.
" 'Metamorphosis' is planned with the intention that the audience will come away with hope and refreshed. And for those in the cocoon stage of life, the night is intended to ignite the fire to passionately persevere in the battle, until the cocoon gives way to the beauty of a true butterfly," Jody told Tribune Woman.
Jody is a dedicated wife to husband Dana Knowles, to whom she has been married for 17 years. She enjoys being the mother of their energetic and happy sons, David, Daniel and Dillon. She is a devoted worker, whether behind the scenes of the worship experience at Bahamas Harvest Church, acting as a wedding planner for friends and associates, or serving on committees for events such as the Miss Gospel Bahamas pageant and the Marlin Awards.
Jody, who holds a bachelor's degree in psychology, was first diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in June of this year.
This is came on the heels of her losing her home due the mounting medical bills for treatment of her son, who had previously been diagnosed with an eye condition called achromatopsia and as being on the autistic spectrum.
Jody had had a previous brush with cancer when a close family member was diagnosed with the disease in 2014.
It was then that she experienced first-hand the day-to-day challenges and changes cancer brings to a person's life. Like for many people, before this experience, cancer was an abstract concept; something she had only read about.
But through her relative's cancer diagnosis and working at Doctors Hospital, coming into contact with cancer patients on a daily basis, Jody became familiar with and seriously aware of the importance of monthly self-examinations, body sign awareness, and how critical it is to have yearly mammograms at a certain age.
"I am adamant about sharing these vital thoughts with women. If you feel that something is wrong, work within the system of your insurance or the network in the Bahamas, until you are satisfied that all avenues have been investigated and conclusive results are made," she said.
"Disregard the fact that cancer doesn't run in your family, and remember that in most cases early detection increases your success as a survivor. Please, ladies, don't keep your cell phone near your breasts; it's dangerous. Don't procrastinate. My mind cannot help but wonder what would have happened if I had procrastinated," she said.
Jody said soon as she became aware of something being wrong with her body, she knew she could not ignore and that it required her immediate attention. After numerous trips to the Cleveland Clinic, she received the diagnosis just three days before her birthday…it was stage 3 breast cancer.
Jody's team of both oncologists and surgeons have recommended immediate chemotherapy treatments (which she is presently receiving), followed by a double mastectomy, hysterectomy and then radiation.
Since beginning chemotherapy in July, Jody has been unable to work, and just recently began working part-time. Subsequently, without her normal income, her usual bills, which include therapy for her son, and now additionally her medical expenses, bills are rapidly increasing.
"I don't have the energy that used to be my norm, which is so needed as my oldest son is on the autism spectrum. I have a strange device in my chest, so hugging and kissing my children has to become a calculated, choreographed movement. My short-term memory is questionable, and yes, my wig gets twisted on my head throughout the day, or simply comes off while I get a quick scratch or wipe the gathered water away, which brings some laughter to my colleagues. The cravings I experience for certain foods are not triggered by pregnancy, but a result of a chemotherapy session, that sometimes begins as early as 5am, but will ultimately result in the birth of a survivor," said Jody.
With two surgeries and chemo therapy ahead of her, Jody said surrounding herself with cancer survivors offers her comfort and encouragement.
"They are the ones who carry the battle wounds, scars and memories of the fight, and are an endless river of knowledge and wisdom which will form a personal library of reference. With this mighty group of counsellors it not only makes me encouraged, it makes me feel empowered," she said.
Jody's family has set up a Go Fund Me Page for her medical expenses. They have set the goal of $50,000.
Interested persons can visit the page at www.gofundme.com/jodyknowles, or all 807-7627, 807-0868, and e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.jodysbutterflyconcert.com.
Tickets for the upcoming 'Metamorphosis' concert can be obtained at the the Bookcase Outlet on Carib Road, Logos Bookstore in the Harbour Bay Shopping Centre, The Bible Books & Gift Centre in the Palmdale Shopping Plaza, God's Good News Books & Teas at the Myles E Munroe Diplomat Centre, and All Seasons All Occasions (formerly Hallmark) in the Mall at Marathon.