datestampThursday, May 2, 2013

Life...

Today I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of The Women's Conference held in Provo, Utah.  I had the blessing of  sharing my story, of having Cancer.  I know I've had this blog for a few years, and I've shared some of these things before, but this is an updated version, I thought I'd share with all of you. I just want to acknowledge that I know we have a loving Heavenly Father who is mindful of us at all times in our lives.  I love Him.  I know He lives. I know We can do hard things. I believe in you...Love to you all on this journey we call life...

I have Cancer. I am 37 years old and have a husband named Andy, whom I love so much.  We just celebrated our 10th anniversary.  I have Cancer, but it doesn’t have me. My husband and I are raising our family, our beautiful six-year-old daughter named Ella and a rambunctious 4 year-old-boy named Noah. I am so young,  I have dreams, desires, and purpose. I want to live until I’m 95 years old!
This is my story: We went into the E.R. in 2006 because I thought I had a pinched nerve in my left shoulder.  While I was waiting in the X-Ray room, I knew something was wrong, and I started talking to God. Both He and I knew my life would never be the same. A few hours later we were told I had Cancer in my abdominal wall, fatty tissue next to that wall, liver, spleen, left ovary and left Kidney.  We initially thought it was a death sentence.  Andy and I sobbed in each other’s arms.  Andy began calling family. His brother Sean came with his wife Missy.  Missy was kind enough to hold my baby girl, who was only four months old, and love on her while I wasn't able to. My Dad came, as well as Andy’s parents and my sweet sister Bonnie.  I was so happy she came because she held my hand – there were many tears shed that night.  The men anointed me and Andy gave me the first of many blessings.  I do not remember what was said, but miracles proceeded that night. 
Doctors were unsure of what type of cancer I had, but they knew that it was quite extensive.  They decided to give me heavy doses of chemotherapy, and for me, my biggest question at that time was when would my hair fall out? The answer was in 17 days.  That, I would come to know, would be the least of my worries.  During this time of treatment, my body was stripped of all physical pride but my soul and spirit were made stronger.  I was blessed with a husband who is a worthy priesthood holder and who wasn't afraid to give me a blessing when I asked him.  He wasn't afraid to help me out of bed to get to the bathroom.  Andy took care of our four and a half month old daughter alone while these treatments were ravaging my body.  During this time I never once heard him complain or say a negative comment.  He was my rock and my light.  He was constantly positive and watched over our family.  I was so blessed to have him by my side and I still am today.  I credit him with why I am here at this time as well as Heavenly Father.
I know for a fact that God was by our sides, embracing us during this difficult time. I continued having the treatments for six months, and during this time, the doctor visits became more difficult because they weren't sure what type of cancer I had and my prognosis wasn't good.  On the flip side, my visiting teachers and our extended family arranged to bring us dinner and watch our baby during my chemotherapy treatments and many doctor appointments.  We were shown hope through our faithful friends and family, who went above and beyond their callings and were instruments in the hand of God to us.  Many of our prayers were answered through the service of those around us. 
Unfortunately, in May of 2007, I became very ill and the doctors said there was nothing they could do for us, but that I was going to die.  I asked the doctor if he was religious, and he said yes.  Then I told him I knew I was going to get better.  He said, No, you are not.  We then walked out of that office and never looked back.  I vividly remember sitting in the car after our consultation…we were silent.  Andy asked me what I wanted to do. He asked me if I wanted to fight this, or not? I said I wanted to fight, and he said, “Let’s do this then!”  I can only imagine what my sweet Andy was thinking. He would have been fine with either choice. He supported me through every decision. He went with me to every appointment, lab, scan, chemo session. Slept by my side in two different hospitals, comforted me, held me, tended to me, prayed for me, loved me and gave freely.  I never heard him complain once. Never. I am so in love with him. He is my knight in shining armor and my love story.  I look forward to the eternities with him. A few nights after that difficult talk, I was lying awake not able to sleep. I was watching Andy and thinking of the future.  So many people were telling us that the future was bleak, but God wasn't and I would rather believe Him.
We were prompted to go to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, where a doctor actually diagnosed the type of cancer I had. Within a week I had started a new treatment and had gotten in to see a specialist, Dr. Chen, who was the best in the field.  She had just moved to Utah from Texas to be closer to family, but I feel strongly that she was placed here to help us.  We knew God was paving the way for us to find a cure.  He was leading the way and we were grateful to follow.  I got very sick during this time and was admitted to the hospital.  At that time, Andy stayed by my side every minute and family took care of our little one.  It was a very trying time and we were unsure of the future.  One thing that helped us greatly was our ward family.  They offered to have a fast for us, along with some other families.  I know that I was spared because of the faith and willing prayers of our fellow saints, as well as family.  It really goes to show what a little faith and love can do for someone.  I remember during the stay at the hospital some Brothers came to our room and gave us the sacrament.  We were so thankful to partake of this sacred ordinance. Many tears were shed for the opportunity to receive the sacrament.
Six months later, I went in for another CT scan and was called back immediately to see my doctor.  Usually, I would wait for a couple of days for the results to come in and then go back.  Andy and I looked at each other and knew something was not right. When Dr. Chen came into our room, she immediately asked if I could be pregnant. I told her no and that I hadn't had a period for two years. She said the radiologist said he saw a fetus in the scan.  Andy and I were floored and in shock. She sent us to get an ultra sound and they said that I was 11 weeks pregnant! We were beside ourselves and a little sick to our stomachs, because…I have Cancer and I’m sick.  I've been taking all of these drugs…a baby? We actually stopped taking Chemo that very day…as soon as I saw that little baby moving. What a blessing in disguise this was for us.
Our doctor told us that this was a miracle and we had a choice to make. Either we abort the baby or go through with the pregnancy.  We had no guarantees.  There were no studies done with women who are on this type of chemo and the baby being healthy. No one had been in this situation before with this type of cancer.  Our doctor strongly urged us to abort the baby and to save my own life.  We decided to go to the temple and pray about it. We felt so much peace and serenity there. Calmness came over us and we felt like we needed to keep the baby. I would carry the baby as long as I was physically able to. Under the circumstances, there was so much we had to take into consideration.   During our visit to the temple I actually felt our sweet baby kick inside of me. I knew this was right.  During that time we had felt Satan’s influence on us as well and it was real.  I had to remember that fear is not from God.  He lifts us up, and comes to us to help with open arms.  Satan, on the other hand, uses negativity and depression to get at us.  I said to myself a thousand times during this time that I will live! I will survive! I will have a healthy child! After a couple of months of testing to see if the baby was healthy or not, we didn't have a lot of good news. Many doctors had told us our baby would have birth defects and be addicted to the medicine that I was on among other problems. This made us sad, but we moved forward and did the best that we could.  Four months later, at 37 weeks, I had a beautiful and healthy baby boy! He was a miracle! We were thrilled! He was perfect…perfect! In fact, several doctors wanted to do a study on him because he didn't have any side effects. What a blessing and gift from God he is. I know he is so healthy because of Heavenly Father’s tender mercies.
It has been six years since they told us I was going to die and my doctors are still shocked that I am living – especially since this cancer is terminal.  There is no cure as far as they are concerned.  I believe and know otherwise. I still have cancer, but it doesn't have me.  It doesn't have my spirit or my soul.  It has molded our lives today.  Today we are grateful for each moment, for the laughter of our babies, for waking up next to the person you love, for being able to go to church and learn of God.  This Heavenly parent, who is waiting for us to reach out to Him, who is kind and loving, who has blessings in store for us;  I know He lives.  I am grateful for this trial for it has opened my eyes to know what this life is about. I have come to know God through these experiences and He has literally carried me through dark times and showed me the light. I know I am a Child of God.  I know that all things are possible through Christ, which strengthens me.  I know families are eternal and I am grateful to be in a loving family.  I know miracles happen and I know I am here because of one. I know through difficult times, there will be sunshine at the end of the road. I know I can do hard things…we all can. For this I am eternally grateful.






5 comments:

James and Danielle said...

Beautiful Sarah! We love you and your precious family!! Thanks for sharing your story!! I struggled today, but your testimony reminded me to trust in God and that miracles happen!! Love you!

Staceroo said...

You and Andy are amazing examples. Faith really can and does move mountains . . .

Kim Orlandini said...

Dood. Sarah. I. Love. You. I cannot even begin to express to you how much you mean to me. How my trials are insignificant next to yours, but your faith, your zeal, keep me going and keep me happy and keep me fighting. I am so thankful you are here, to teach ME. Heavenly Father must have known what a positive force for good you would be in MY life. Selfish right? ;)

Love you to the moon and beyond. xoxo

My Walkabout said...

You and your family is inspirational to many, me included.

Cheltz said...

This is a great story. Thank you for sharing it!

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