“Every day is a gift. Every beat of your heart is precious.” Jeffrey Suggs
Jeffrey Suggs understands what it means to redeem time. He is also clear on how he chooses to spend it. His direction comes from deep conviction. His strength comes from a grateful heart.
Jeff and his wife, Brenda, lead an active faith-driven life. They are both members of Morgan Baptist Church in Moneta and have been involved in numerous ministries, including “Bridging the Gap,” Franklin County jail ministry and are connected with Christian Motorcycle Association (CMA). They met at an Agape Christian Ministries event where Jeff was volunteering.
“When our eyes met, I thought he was the cutest thing I had ever seen,” Brenda said grinning. Later, she invited him to her 55th birthday party and they have been together ever since. They were baptized on the same day two years ago and planned to be married June 12, 2021.
What they didn’t know was that a hip injury not responding to treatment would, ultimately, reveal something far more life-altering. In December 2020, an unexplainable fall resulted in a hospital visit, a fractured femur and a multitude of tests that showed severe bone deterioration and a suspicious spot on Jeff’s bladder. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 bone cancer.
By the beginning of February, Jeff had gone from weighing 185 pounds to 108 pounds and was only able to ambulate with the support of a walker. That was on good days. On bad days, he could hardly move, dealt with intense pain and needed Brenda’s full-on support to get through each hour.
Jeff explained that he was too weak to do chemotherapy and the pain and anxiety that accompanied immunotherapy was too much. “I went downhill rapidly,” he said “It was if my entire body suddenly betrayed me.”
“I got to the point that I was ready to let him go. I couldn’t continue to watch him suffer,” Brenda said. And I certainly didn’t think I would ever be able to marry him.”
That’s when they rescheduled their wedding to February 14, 2021 and they called Good Samaritan Hospice.
“We don’t know how much time we have,” Jeff said, “but I believe all of us have a purpose and we are not going anywhere until it’s complete.”
He explained that when he came to terms with his prognosis, that he had a peace. “When I thought I was out of here, my entire mindset changed. Material things became irrelevant. All that mattered was relationships and what I’m leaving behind for others. I kept asking myself “have I helped to improve anyone’s life?”
This question began to take shape in the form of an in-home podcast ministry. It is called Redeeming the Time and it illuminates Jeff and Brenda’s humble transparency and deep desire to help others.
“We have navigated some real challenges and much of it was very confusing,” Brenda said. “If we can help others in a similar situation, we would like to do that. We feel like that is our mission now.”
In their debut podcast, Jeff shared his story and said unequivocally, “I believe in the power of prayer and I also believe that hospice helped turn things around.” Jeff, now up to 140 pounds, is back to enjoying life – a profound shift. “We’ve gone to the store, we went dancing, we sit on the boat dock and we hope to be back out boating again,” Brenda said.
“One of the best things we did was call hospice. Lori (RN Care Manger) is like family to us. She comes in with a smile and leaves with a smile.” During her regularly scheduled clinical assessment, Lori asked Jeff a series of questions, one of which was related to his current pain level. Her follow-up question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, what pain level is acceptable to you?” His answer spoke volumes: “Zero.”
“I was supposed to be gone three months ago,” Jeff said. “This is borrowed time. I want to enjoy every day. It is a gift.”