I was living the American dream. Well maybe not, but it was my dream. My name is Sharon Ammons, I am 42 years old at the time of writing this.
My life was certainly never perfect but it was good. We had struggles like any family with finances and time and chores and drama. But we were whole. We were a team. My kids were loved and protected and they knew it. And I was loved and I knew it. Through all my faults and quirks I was loved. And this was what made life good even though it was far from perfect.
In 2013, my life began to unravel piece by piece.
January 2013 – We were placed with foster children, 3 year old twins. Beautiful babies that, in my guess, had lived with more hurt than I’ll see in a life time. They did not know trust and as circumstances unfolded, we were forced to put them back in the system, adding one more element of distrust to what they already knew, and the first layer of guilt to what I would begin to know.
March 2013 – My husband, John, lost his job. It was out of the blue with no stated reason other than “You are not what we are looking for in the future.” Seven years of service and he was escorted out in one afternoon. This would be the last day of full-time employment he would ever see.
May 2013 – Months of unusual pains and misdiagnosis came to a head. John could barely move for pain. I took him to Urgent Care where we were immediately sent to the ER for fear of appendicitis. Three weeks, one major surgery, a life threatening blood clot and several procedures later, he came home with a diagnosis: Stage 3 cancer of the appendix. It had already spread to the colon and lymph nodes.
June 2013 – In one weeks time we moved from Louisiana to Oklahoma to be closer to family and begin cancer treatment. We put our house on the market, loaded what we could in the van and moved 500 miles away. We left behind most everything we owned, friends, a great church and our pets.
June 2013 – More tests revealed cancer in the liver. Stage 3 diagnosis was upgraded to Stage 4.
August 2013 – I went back to work full-time. We needed health insurance and the part-time job I had worked for years didn’t offer it.
September 2013 – John’s three month scan came back clear. The doctor told us he was essentially “cancer free”. The chemo was working and the cancer was retreating. BUT he was much sicker now than when we started. This didn’t line up with the clear scan results. More tests revealed a significant (and of course rare) side effect to the drug his cancer was responding to.
October 2013 – Second major surgery to repair the damage. One month after the “cancer free” diagnosis, the surgeon approached a hopeful family in a hospital waiting room with these words: “The cancer is everywhere, in his back, his abdomen, his colon and his liver. And this is just what I can see from opening him up.” It was the moment when my hope was replaced with stark reality. Then started the battle between the surgeon and oncologist. He was sick, very sick. The surgeon said we needed the oncologist. You must cure the cancer to stop the infection. The oncologist kept referring us back to the surgeon, you must stop the infection before I can cure the cancer.
December 31, 2014 – Home health added a morphine pump on top of all the other oral and pain patches to help control the pain.
January 2014 – Hospice was called in. We were out of medical options. It was in God’s hands now.
February 17, 2014 at 11:57pm (three minutes before his daughter’s 10th birthday) – John Ammons went to be with The Lord for eternity.
I knew the instant he died what I had lost. In 9 months time my girls and I watched a seemingly healthy, very involved husband and father deteriorate. We watched him endure intense pain despite the medications. We watched him lose literally a 100 lbs or more. We watched him suffer immensely. And when it was all said and done, we were left standing alone.
Everything we once knew flipped upside down. My girls lost their father, their home, their childhood friends and their pets in less than a year. And on top of that their mother, who had been a stay at home mom, now worked full-time. I lost my husband, best friend and Spiritual support system. I traded my dream job of raising my children at home for a pay check and health insurance. I traded the feeling of being loved and supported for that of guilt.
And so we started the process to rebuild. We are learning to trust again not only each other but God as well. My feelings are not always right and certainly not always Christian but they are very real. My faith has certainly been rocked but not demolished. I know we never truly stood alone. Christ has walked with us and carried us through. I know this not because of anything I’ve read online or any friend whose told me. I know this because I know my Saviour and I know myself. This is not a path I could bear alone and my Saviour is not a God who would let me.