“I Have Observed the Faith”
AS TOLD BY FRIENDS OF BRUNELLA INCONDITI
“SATURDAY was a very slow and lonely day. I was all alone in the room, feeling hopeless. It felt like walking through a hallway. Everything was going well, and all of a sudden, someone slammed the door right in my face, and there was no way out, no matter how hard I tried.”
Extreme disappointment weighed heavily on the heart of 15-year-old Brunella Inconditi. The most important day in her young life was slipping by. Earlier that year her growing love for Jehovah and the Bible had moved her to dedicate her life to him. In July 1990 she was to be baptized at the “Pure Language” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Montreal, Canada. Instead, Brunella was about to face a test of her faith that would last the rest of her life.
Two days before she expected to symbolize her dedication by water baptism, Brunella learned that she had leukemia. Doctors at the local children’s hospital wanted to begin treatment immediately, so Brunella remained in the hospital.
Her Own Words Move the Doctors
Brunella knew that blood is sacred to Jehovah God. (Leviticus 17:11) Her parents, Edmondo and Nicoletta, had stipulated that no blood transfusions were to be used in their daughter’s treatment. “Brunella wanted the doctors to hear it from her too, even though she was a minor,” recalls her father. “She firmly told them that she did not want treatment that would violate the Bible’s command to ‘abstain from blood.’”—Acts 15:20.
On July 10, 1990, three doctors and a social worker met with Brunella’s parents and two ministers from the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Tests confirmed that Brunella had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The doctors explained their plan to fight the disease. They tactfully described that it was very difficult to treat. “Brunella’s conduct and determination to obey God had touched the doctors and the social worker. They were impressed by the love of her parents and by the support of friends from the Christian congregation. They also appreciated the way we understood and respected their position,” remembers one of the congregation elders.
The doctors intended to avoid blood transfusions. Brunella would receive extensive chemotherapy, but it would be less aggressive than usual. This would reduce the damage to her blood cells caused by the treatment. “The doctors considered Brunella’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs,” explains Nicoletta. “When we asked them to consult a specialist experienced in nonblood management of childhood leukemia, they agreed.” Brunella and the hospital staff formed a warm bond of affection.
Although the initial treatment produced some good results, Brunella’s ordeal was just beginning. By November 1990 her disease was in remission, so without delay she was baptized. Reflecting on the previous few months, Brunella admitted: “It wasn’t easy at all. You need a lot of strength, and you need to think positively. . . . My faith was put to the test, but I remained firm, and I still plan to have a career as a regular pioneer [full-time minister].”
Early in 1991, Brunella suffered a relapse. She almost died while undergoing chemotherapy, but to everyone’s surprise and delight, she recovered. By August she was well enough to spend the month in the public ministry as an auxiliary pioneer. Her illness worsened again, and by November 1991 her body was stricken in several places with cancer. Another team of doctors at another hospital began to treat her with radiation therapy.
Even under such difficult circumstances, Brunella remained steadfast and set spiritual goals for herself. When first learning about the leukemia, she was told she might live only six months. Now, almost a year and a half later, Brunella was still making plans for the future. “She wasted no time in working toward her goals,” remarked a congregation elder. “Brunella’s faith in God’s promised Paradise sustained her throughout her ordeal. She grew to Christian maturity though young in years. Her conduct and attitude inspired the congregation and won the hearts of those who knew her, including the hospital staff.” Her mother recalls: “She never complained. When someone asked how she was feeling, she would answer, ‘Fine’ or, ‘Not bad, and how about you?’”
A Secure Future
Brunella planned to attend the “Light Bearers” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in July 1992. By the time of the convention, however, Brunella was hospitalized, and her life was slipping away. Nonetheless, she attended the convention in a wheelchair, intent on seeing the drama Doing What Is Right in Jehovah’s Eyes.
She returned home to her family for the last few days of her life. “To the end, she was more concerned about others than about herself,” says Nicoletta. “She would encourage them to study the Bible, telling them, ‘We will be together in Paradise.’”
Brunella died on July 27, 1992, firm in her hope of a resurrection to life in Paradise on earth. She had only begun to pursue her goals, but she planned to continue her dedicated course after her resurrection. Only a few days before she died, Brunella wrote the following letter, which was read at her memorial service.
“Thank you for coming. Your presence means a lot to my family.
“To the people that were close to me—we’ve been through a lot. We had a lot of bad times, but there were some funny times too. It was a hard and long fight, but I don’t feel that I have failed. As it says in the Scriptures, ‘I have fought the fine fight, I have run the course to the finish, I have observed the faith.’—2 Timothy 4:7.
“I have also learned a lot, and I grew a lot, and my friends and those who were around me saw the change. I want to thank all those people who gave me their support.
“You who believe in the new system and in Jehovah know there will be a resurrection, just as John 5:28, 29 says. So keep strong in the truth, and we will be able to see one another again.
“I want to thank those people who know what I’ve been through. I give each of you a long hug and a kiss. I love you all.”
Brunella did not let her youth or her illness postpone her dedication to God. Her example of faith and determination encourages young and old alike to put off anything that might hinder them from running the race for life.—Hebrews 12:1.