Riding on Faith

Jodi Eiseman’s boyfriend told her he’d bring her bike inside the house
when she got too sick to ride it. It’s a favorite napping spot now for
Jodi’s cat, Love Potion. See more photos at the end of this article.
Jodi Eiseman has some things she wants to get off her chest. She’s about to turn 49, and she knows she won’t see 50. So she wants to tell her story. It’s one of faith, perseverance, and love – with a dose of humor too.

Faith has always been what helped Jodi through. Before she was even old enough for kindergarten, as a scared little girl she saw a statue of the Blessed Mother start to glow. Mary brought Jodi comfort, and had a message of peace for her – even if it was a little lost on a mesmerized child.

“At that age, you’re looking at Mary and going, ‘But you’re glowing. I hope you know that,’” Jodi remembered.

But that has been the story of her life ever since: when she was scared, when she felt unloved or unsupported, and even now as cancer tries to take over her body, faith has given her strength.

Twelve years ago Jodi survived stage 3B uterine cancer. She was one of 50 patients to receive an experimental treatment – and she was the only one to survive. During that first bout with cancer, she had an out-of-body experience, but she knew it wasn’t quite her time.

“I still had the feeling that I hadn’t done what I’m supposed to do yet,” Jodi said.

Then one night, when she really thought she might die, she felt God grab hold of her.

“God came to me very strongly, but gently…and said, ‘Jodi, why are you hanging onto this cancer so bad? Just let go. I got it…Let me help you and you will get through this,’” she recalled.

And she did get through it. A few days later, her doctors found no trace of cancer.

But even then, it wasn’t easy for Jodi. Her husband told her if she got sick again he didn’t want to take care of her. And when they divorced, she didn’t get much sympathy from her parents. Still, Jodi persevered. She worked, she went to school at night, and she set goals for herself.

“What Jodi has told me is that if you don’t give up hope, then lots of things can happen,” said Jodi’s boyfriend Greg. They met four years ago at a motorcycle show where Jodi was showing her custom Harley. He takes inspiration from her determined spirit; the fact that she never gives up. He recounted what she told him about that first battle with cancer:

“She laid there, getting through her pain – she dreamed of riding a motorcycle. Never had ridden one before...didn’t know how to ride a motorcycle,” he said.

But when Jodi got better, she went and bought herself that Harley. She had it custom painted in exquisite detail with scenes from The Wizard of Oz: Glinda the Good Witch on one side, and the Wicked Witch of the West on the other.

“I had men come up and say, ‘I was scared of that green witch,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, guess which one I am?” Jodi said.

Then two years ago Jodi found out she had cancer for the second time. She had gotten into a car accident when another driver was texting and rear-ended her. When Jodi went to the hospital to get checked out, the doctors found colon cancer. And this time, she knows the cancer is not going away.

“I planned on robbing a bank naked and then saying, ‘Oh yeah, put me away for life. You’re gonna really have fun doing that,’” she said.

But Jodi didn’t rob a bank. She moved to Michigan to live with Greg after she got sick, and now he’s her caregiver. His devotion is one of the ways she sees God working in her life, even as she battles cancer.

“Just how things happened, how I met [Greg]. I wasn’t looking for anyone at all. I thought it was crazy, talking to some guy I’ve never known,” Jodi said. “Look at him, he’s handsome. But stuff like that’s usually married, or got millions of kids.

“I’m not quite sure why he stays,” she continued. “He’s not married to me, he’s not obligated. He says, ‘I’m not that type of guy.’ There’s a lot of people out there who wouldn’t care about their ‘guy-ness,’ they would just turn and leave and say, ‘You know, you don’t have much life left in you. Bye.’”

At that point Greg interjected: “Maybe it’s more important how your heart feels than it is how your ‘guy-ness’ feels,” he said. “She doesn’t quite get the grasp of somebody loving her and wanting to do something for her because that’s what they want to do – because they love her. It’s that simple. I didn’t have to sit down and think about what I wanted to do. But then again, I don’t know that she’s ever had that in her life.”

In October 2016, Jodi decided to stop her chemo treatments. It was a decision she made on her own.

“I took the holiday off so I felt like I could have energy for the holiday, and I decided that it wasn’t worth me going back and putting myself through that,” Jodi said.

(Jodi loves Christmas. It was the happiest time for her growing up, when her parents’ arguments would stop, and her grandfather would dress up like Santa. She hasn’t taken her Christmas tree down in two years. It’s decked out in exquisite cloisonné ornaments, carefully chosen and thoughtfully arranged on the lighted tree.)

These days Jodi receives home care services from Angela Hospice. And she continues to keenly experience her spiritual connection.

“Everybody has had a spiritual experience: it’s the time you were born,” Jodi said. “It’s the same way when you die, except you know a heck of a lot more.”

Jodi says she’s given herself over to God’s will. She’s seen Jesus recently in dreams. And she can really identify with Job: his struggles, his reliance on God, and God’s faithfulness to him.

“To see the reward at the end for believing…” she said, “it can really happen.”

Like Job, Jodi has gone through a series of real struggles in life. But she’s remained faithful, and she knows God is still with her, and she knows He has a plan for her.

She remembers back when she was living in Ohio, when she was alone battling her cancer, she became overwhelmed and started to cry as she was praying.

“I said, ‘Just send this huge angel please. And he has to be big,” she said.

And then, Jodi points at Greg. “There he is.”

And that is one of the sweetest insights Jodi has to offer, a lesson learned through a life of struggle. As she stands next to her big angel, a little weak, but full of conviction, she delivers her message, “Make sure you tell them that real love is out there.”

Jodi getting her makeup done before her photo shoot.
Jodi and Greg at home, with loved ones looking on.
Jodi's custom painted Harley.

Jodi with Angela Hospice staffers, following her photo shoot.

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