Jessica Council was a beautiful redheaded American girl. She was 30 years old, with a husband and a two-year-old son. She and her husband Clint worked for a Christian charity, mentoring children.
She was always extremely healthy, took care about what she ate and exercised regularly.
Last August, she developed a sore throat. When it was still sore two weeks later, she saw a doctor. He had a test done, and said it was nothing to worry about. He had misread the results of the test.
In November, Jessica was having trouble breathing, and wound up in accident and emergency. The following day her throat closed up so tightly she couldn't breathe. Doctors managed to get a tube down her throat and put her on a ventilator.
The following day, they told her she had cancer. By then, she knew for certain that she was pregnant. Two days later, the hospital's obstetrician offered her an abortion. Jessica refused. For her, that was not an option.
Surgery for the cancer was not possible. The oncologist said chemotherapy would likely kill the baby. The obstetrician said the baby would probably survive, but would probably have brain damage. Radiotherapy carried similar risks. Jessica thought for a few seconds, then declined treatment.
One night in February, Jessica went to sleep and didn't wake up. Clint gave permission for a caesarean section.
The doctors thought Jessica was 25 weeks into pregnancy. When little Jessi was born, they realised she had been only about 23 weeks, the very limit of viability for the baby. Jessi weighed 1lb 3oz.
"Jessica knew she was going to die anyway," said Clint. "She didn't share that with me until almost when she died. . . But I think she knew, and she was going to give this baby every chance she could.
"I did struggle," said Clint, "because in the Bible the one person that we're commanded to love more than myself, this was her. Sometimes it's easier to be selfless as far as whatever happens to you, but when it comes down to losing the one you love more than anything else, it's very difficult."
For about a month after Jessica died, says Clint, "I could not - and I mean that as a literal inability - I could not read my Bible, I could not pray.
"I knew cognitively that the relationship was there, I knew [God] loved me. I accepted all these things from a mental standpoint. . . but the delight in God was gone for about a month. I was functioning solely on what I knew to be true from a mental standpoint."
Now he's busy working, caring for his two children - the doctors say the baby, though still in hospital, is doing well - and praying once more.
Less than two weeks after Jessica died, Clint wrote: "God is to be praised, my friends. Do not doubt God; do not be angry with Him for me.
"I am privileged to have had a wife who was so full of the love of the Father. Rejoice with me. . . God has blessed Jessica in taking her to a place of perfect peace and no pain. I must be thankful for the time that I had with her rather than ungrateful for all the things we never got to do together. We must give thanks in all things for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ.
"Grace and peace to all."
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