By Nate Smelle
Published Nov. 9 2017
The award-winning author and motivational speaker Cyndi Desjardins-Wilkens will be signing and selling copies of her book Shine On at this year’s Wintergreen Christmas Market in Minden Hills on Saturday Nov. 11. Shine On tells the compelling true story of Desjardins-Wilkens’s remarkable journey to wholeness as a quadruple amputee.
While working as a business manager and a new mom Desjardins-Wilkens found herself making repeated trips to the hospital for her three-month-old son who kept getting sick. Returning home one night from the hospital she began vomiting and noticed that she had a fever and a strange pain in her right leg. As her symptoms worsened over the next few days she returned to the hospital to find out what was wrong. When she arrived at the hospital her kidneys and liver had failed and she had gone into septic shock. Diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis (otherwise known as flesh eating disease) the doctors told her husband that they did not expect her to survive the night. Defying the odds and making it through the night Desjardins-Wilkens spent the next five weeks in a medically-induced coma. She awakened to discover that in an effort to save her life her hands and feet had been amputated.
As she laid in the hospital bed connected to several tubes and wires forced to come to terms with the loss of her hands and feet she said she still had great faith that God would carry her through the difficult times ahead. Motivated by faith and family Desjardins-Wilkens said she is blessed to have the unwavering support of her husband parents and two children.
“That faith reminded me that I was never alone and that I could rely on a strength much greater than what I had. There were so many moments in which I was very afraid kneeling for the first time standing swimming driving and each moment brought the opportunity for prayer and faith. I had faith that I would walk again hold my children in my arms and be a ‘hands on’ mom again.”
Despite the loss of her hands and feet Desjardins-Wilkens said she has never seen herself as having missing parts.
“As I walk through life in public it is the looks of others that remind me that I look different” she said.
“The wholeness that I found through this journey is a wholeness that comes from inside from knowing your purpose and that you are loved.”
Since her childhood Desjardins-Wilkens had always dreamt of being a writer. She began writing poetry as a young girl and continued to follow her dream by writing stories in her spare time as an adult. Shortly after regaining consciousness Desjardins-Wilkens said she looked back on her life and immediately felt a strong conviction to write her story. She decided to write Shine On to inspire hope in others and help people through tragic circumstances and life-altering events. Desjardins-Wilkens is in the process of writing a second book so that she can tell the rest of her story. Having learned so many lessons from the inconceivable challenges she has faced she is eager to share them with others.
“Life is not easy” Desjardins-Wilkens said.
“Ancient texts tell us that we will face trial but we do not have to face anything alone. We can look at the world and see so much pain and suffering and wonder where is God in all of this. I have learnt where he is. He was in all the people who came forward to represent him and to help walk me through an inconceivable life-altering event. But most importantly he was right there with me.”
Shine On was recently selected as the winner of the 2017 Word Alive Women’s Journey of Faith publishing contest. Haliburtonians will have an opportunity to speak with the author about her award-winning book on Saturday Nov. 11 at the Wintergreen Christmas Market at 3325 Gelert Road. She will be available to sign copies of her book between noon and 4 p.m.