'Best holiday season ever'
IOTA - One might be hard pressed to find a Christmas gift for Stephen Broussard this year.
That could be because the father of three from Iota seemingly already has everything. A beautiful wife (Kay) and children (Carter, Kaylor and Tucker). A job he values. And a close knit network of family and friends which has supported him through the most trying times of his life.
However, anyone who knows Broussard understands that any Christmas gifts that he receives will probably pale in comparison to the countless gifts he has received over the past year. Gifts that were given to him by people he didn’t even know before Dec. 19, 2012 - the day that he made a trip to the doctor for a problem that he had originally perceived to be somewhat routine.
“I had blood in my stool and I wanted to get it checked out,” said Broussard, who’s weary smile reflected the emotions of that day. “I had originally thought that I would only be a few hours late for work.”
However, the news that Broussard’s doctor gave him that day was anything but “routine.” And it would put his and his family’s lives on hold for several excruciating months. Broussard was told that he had cancer in his liver, lungs and colon. And his outlook demanded that he would have to undergo multiple surgeries, treatments and procedures, each of which he detailed during his visit with the Post-Signal on Friday.
However, during his interview it became apparent that Broussard wasn’t telling his story so that people would know about the pain he and his family had to endure. The mere sight of the scars from his surgeries is enough evidence of that. He wanted people to understand how his strong faith in God and the love of family and friends is probably what has him living cancer-free as of his most recent doctor visit. If he receives similar news every three months over the next two years he won’t have to visit the doctor as often. If his doctor visits bring good news for three more years after that it is probable that he can live the remainder of his life cancer-free.
“I remember asking God why this is happening to me,” said Broussard. “I asked him to send me a sign that he was listening.”
Broussard’s signs always seemed to come.
“I remember lying in bed that day wanting a sign,” he continued. “It was raining really hard and I recall thinking that I’d love to see a bird fly by my window which is a strange thing to see during a storm. I kept looking out the window for a bird and none ever flew by. Then when I looked down at the desk directly under the window, there was a small statue of a bird on it that was carved out of wood. I laughed and thought ‘how could I have missed that?’”
On another occasion, Broussard was sitting outside of his home looking at the horizon in back of his house. He prayed for God to show him a cross so that he would know that he was listening.
“I kept looking at the clouds to see if there was a formation in the shape of a cross,” he smiled. “When I looked down I noticed a line of electric poles that are normally shaped like an H with the two poles holding up the one horizontal pole which holds the lines. Don’t you know right in the middle of these was a single tower with just one pole holding up the horizontal pole. It was the perfect shape of a cross.”
Broussard showed the Post-Signal the electrical tower that he was referring to which is visible from his carport.
Broussard has been a very religious man throughout his life. He has never lived a high risk lifestyle (smoking or heavy drinking for example) that would lead to his getting cancer. He was introduced to Father Manny Fernandez from Henr. Father Hernandez has a healing ministry (he is mentioned in an article by Chad Judice in an unrelated story which ran in the Sunday edition of the Post-Signal) and is known for being frank with the people he serves.
“I was told that Father Manny would tell me what the Lord had in store for me,” said Broussard. “I was warned that it is not always good news (Father Fernandez had told people suffering from fatal illnesses to “make their peace” with those in their lives if he thought they were going to die) so I shouldn’t talk to him if I wasn’t ready to to hear what he had to say. But I knew I wanted to hear it.”
At first Fernandez told Broussard that he should “be patient.”
After spending more time with Father Hernandez, Broussard heard some very encouraging words.
“Father Manny told me that I would receive my miracle,” he said.
Another family friend put Broussard in contact with Sister Dulce, a nun who Broussard was told was a healer.
“I was with my sister Jan and praying with her (Sister Dulce) on the phone when my back was hurting really bad,” said Broussard. “She asked me to get my sister to put her hand on the part of my back where it hurt. As she kept praying my back started to feel a lot better. At one point, Jan pulled her hand away and Sister Dulce immediately told me that she felt like she had lost the connection. I was kind of stunned but I whispered to Jan to hurry up and put her hand back. As soon as she did, Sister Dulce said that things were O.K. again and continued praying. And I started to feel better. When she was done Jan pulled her hand away and said that she felt like it was burning.
“We were really freaked out,” said Broussard.
Broussard gets understandably emotional when he discusses his ordeal. However, his eyes light up when he discusses the family members and friends who supported him and helped to raise money for his treatments.
“To begin with my wife Kay has been incredible,” he said. “When I found out I was sick she just took over. She did her job and mine.”
Broussard has also been supported by longtime friends, such as Justin Lee, Jeff Duhon, Jeff Hebert, Corey Miller, and Aaron Frey. Lee and Duhon put on a benefit golf tournament and Hebert, Miller and Frey put together a football pool which helped to raise money for the surgeries and treatments, which included the removal of ten percent of his liver, and treatments, that he received.
“Those guys helped me out so much,” said Broussard. “The boxes on the pool were pretty expensive and I remember hoping that they would be able to fill it. They filled up two of them and we had a lot of others who wanted to get in but we didn’t have the room.”
Among the others that Broussard feels obliged to are his parents, his brother and sister, members of the Acadia Parish School Board, Pastor Bubba McCann of Jennings, Father Jude Thierry, the people of Iota and Crowley, and the principals and staff members of Iota Elementary and Evangeline Elementary, where he works as a disciplinarian.
“They have been so accommodating in so far as giving me time off and understanding what we have been going through,” he said.
“This has been the best holiday season ever,” continued Broussard emotionally. “The last time I saw my doctor he said to enjoy this Christmas and celebrate the New Year, but not to celebrate too hard because I am missing part of my liver.”