From a Widow's Pen

Reflections From the Heart

Tag: Cancer

The Toil (September 2013)

I remember vividly the day we were told that John had cancer. I remember my feelings, my fears, and the tears. But mostly I remember my husband’s tremendous optimism and how sure he was that God was going to carry us through this, refine us and make us stronger in the end. Granted we are not at the end yet, but I often find myself wondering if we have, in fact, gotten any stronger.

Physically my husband is far from strong. He cannot walk more than a hundred yards without having to stop and rest. He has lost a tremendous amount of weight. He is in a lot of pain and he has no energy. Emotionally, he is spent as well. He has very little patience with the children. Not that I blame him, I often have little patience and I am perfectly healthy. He and I rarely talk. When we are together we stare blindly at the screen or busy ourselves with whatever else may be going on. It is as if there is nothing left to discuss. We have accepted that this is life. His job is to get better. Mine is to make sure the family unit stays in tact. After that, there is little else to discuss.

Oh how I miss what we once had. When we were dating we’d talk for hours about our dreams and our future, what our kids would be like, where we’d travel, etc. Then once we had kids we threw ourselves into being the All American Family. We had a decent home and decent cars. We attended church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. In fact John was the worship pastor and I was the children’s leader. The girls were in dance classes and art classes. They took piano, gymnastics, swim lessons and participated in the community theatre (not all in the same semester of course). We were involved in what they did. We loved watching them and being a part of their activities. We homeschooled. John would come home for lunch almost every day and we would eat together. The girls would hold onto his legs as he tried to go back to work. They made it a ritual to stand outside and wave good-bye to daddy when he went back to work. We laughed. We loved. We enjoyed.

But this thing called cancer stole all of that from us. First the material was taken. We moved out of our house and into my parents’ home. We needed to come home so we’d have help with childcare and getting John to his medical appointments. And well, until that decent house nestled in a quiet neighborhood in Louisiana sold, we had to come home because financially we were strapped. We left almost everything we had with the exception of some electronics and clothes and moved from Louisiana to Oklahoma. We gave away our pets and much of our furniture. We said good-bye to as many friends as we could and we loaded up in the van and we moved. Cancer stole our home, our pets and our livelihood.

But the worse was yet to come. At first, we were strong. We were going to beat this. But the weeks wear on you and after awhile cancer began to steal our uumph. We no longer laugh. Instead we cry. We no longer play. Instead we hurt. We no longer enjoy. Instead we survive. My husband cannot go to much of my children’s activities. He often can’t even get out of the chair. He can’t spend time laughing with us anymore because he is recovering. My girls move through life without questions. There is really no reason to ask. The answer is always “because daddy is sick.”

Finally cancer stole my dreams. All I ever wanted was to be a wife and a stay at home mom. I wanted to be the one to do the daily raising of my girls and watch them grow up beautifully inside and out. I wanted to help guide them so that they’d make wise decisions and hopefully one day the ultimate decision to follow Christ. But cancer stole that as well. It took away my husband’s ability to work. I am so very thankful that I have a marketable skill and could find a good job but every morning when I head off to work, I leave behind that which I want most, my ability to be there for my girls, to experience life with them and to guide them and help shape them.

Of course I do not blame my husband. I love him. I miss him. He would not have chosen this path for himself or his family. But it is the path handed to us. Gone are the days of enjoying life. Replaced are the days of surviving life; working to pay bills and have health insurance. This is perhaps, my biggest regret, the life that I feel has been stolen from me in returning to work full-time. I miss my babies like you would not believe. I think sometimes I do blame John for taking that one thing from me. I know it is not his fault but I have to lash out at something.

I am curious to see if this cancer will steal all that we have or if it will slowly creep away, as it crept in. One day will we wake to find the cancer gone and my husband returned? Will the laughter and the childish ways of our girls return to our home on a regular basis? Will we enjoy each other as a family once again? Will there be anything left of our marriage? All questions I cannot answer with certainty. For now we hold onto the only hope we can grasp and try as hard as we might to protect our little ones from the harsh reality of life.

The answers will all come, one day…

Replenishment (November 2013)

As we struggle down this path called cancer. There have been only 2 constants – John’s poor health and God’s perfect provision. I do not understand how those without faith make it through crisis. No, I’m not looking for a debate, I’m simply providing a testimony. Without faith I would have caved long ago.

God keeps showing Himself faithful. He has not chosen to heal John yet and I do not know if He will. But He has ministered to us. He has provided for us financially – I have a good job, our house is now under a lease/purchase agreement and family and friends have made generous gifts to keep us afloat. We have been able to pay all of our bills and my kids have been able to continue in their sports without a tremendous financial strain.

God is providing for our children. Just this weekend, one of Elaina’s good friends from Louisiana drove down (well her parents drove) to spend the weekend with the girls. I worry about my girls. The day to day of watching their father suffer. Elaina, I worry about the most, simply because she is the one who is old enough to fully understand this situation with her father. She wants desperately to spend time with him. She sits in his room and just watches him. She has begun to complain about stomach pains and being ill. I attribute it to stress. I have prayed that she would make a good friend here in Oklahoma. Someone who lives close enough that they can come and play and hang out together. This prayer, I am still waiting on God to answer. So when He sent her friend from Louisiana, I was in tears over His wonderful gift. A weekend to enjoy with a buddy to get out of the house and away from the sadness. Thank you God for providing her that release.

God has also provided us a church family that loves us and cares for us. They brought an abundance of food and snacks when John was in the hospital. They listened to me cry and sent cards and encouraging notes.

My constant prayer is that John’s suffering ends soon. That he is either made whole again in his earthly body or taken to his heavenly body which knows no more agony. The sadness in the second scenario is for the girls and me. The things they will miss out on with him. The things he could teach them. Knowing the love of an earthly father and the strong arms to carry you through tough times, these are things I want for my girls. The thought of them missing out on that saddens me. They have/had such a wonderful daddy. And selfishly, I am grieved by the thought of walking through life without him as well. He has always been my Spiritual strength and guide, my companion, my husband. He is someone I could talk to, and laugh with and cry with.

I don’t know how this will end. But I do know that God is going to take care of us – John, the girls and me.

A Ray of Hope (December 2013)

A month ago, after John’s second surgery, the surgeon suggested there was nothing more he could do and the oncologist wouldn’t see us. It was a vicious cycle, oncologist says we have to treat the infection – talk to the surgeon; Surgeon says, infection is caused by cancer, kill the cancer, kill the infection. We were at a huge crossroads of despair. The surgeon suggested we call hospice and try and get his pain under control. He called the oncologist and made his suggestion and she agreed to see us.

Her plan, a hail mary pass at chemo again. It would not cure him but it would likely buy him more time. On the flip side, chemo for an individual this sick (malnutrition, known infection, recovering from major surgery) is very risky. We were warned that it could back fire and ultimately bring about his demise faster. But John is a fighter. He did not want to give up.

So we took the chance – and today, one month later, we are seeing definite signs of improvement! Is it working? Will this bring about comfort and a small level of normalcy back to our lives? Will it allow us the freedom to move out on our own? I’m not sure, but it does provide a ray of hope.

The Conclusion (February 2014)

He didn’t make it.

One Month Later (March 17, 2014 at 7:59am)

I looked down at the clock on my computer and am drawn back to the events of February 17, 2014. What was I doing that day? At 7:59am, I was taking the girls to school. We were running a little late that day so I’m guessing we had not yet made it to the Sunnylane exit by this time. But everyone was in fairly good spirits. I never had a true peace that morning about leaving John. But fear of having to call in “sick” again convinced me to go. As it turns out I would never actually make it to work. My step mom called around 8:30am. I could hear John moaning loudly in the back ground, almost screaming. I instructed them to call hospice and I headed for home my heart filled with fear.

I will not include most of the events of that day at this time. It is a day that still now replays in my mind. I shoulder much sadness, confusion and guilt over the events of that day. I will simply leave you with this: at 11:57pm he was gone, essentially 15 hours after I got back to the house and exactly three minutes before his daughter’s birthday. Even in death, he was a good daddy.

All the relief that I thought I would feel over him no longer being in pain was missing. It was not relief I felt. It was great sadness. My husband and best friend was gone. There was no longer any hope of God’s miraculous cure. Just loneliness and sadness and a huge sense of ‘what will I do now’. Everything finally settled about 3:30am. Friends, family, nurses, even the funeral home folks had come and gone. I thought I would sleep from pure exhaustion but I could not. All I could think about was that he was gone and I was alone. It was not fair. One month later, this is still my primary thought: He is gone. I am alone. It is not fair.

My Story – The Full Version

Perhaps I should start at the beginning. After all, isn’t every good story supposed to start at the beginning? Settle in. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s go back to the point at which a shy young girl of 18 first met a quiet young boy of 19.

It was September of my Freshman and John’s Sophomore year of college. For some crazy reason I decided I was going to audition for the Freshman ensemble at the Baptist Student Union (“BSU”). I had never sung in an ensemble in my life and although I can hit a note here and there, hitting notes collectively to complete an entire song has never been my talent. Nonetheless, I signed up to audition. John Ammons was one of the interviewing judges. I remember little about meeting him that day. I was much too nervous about the audition. But John always told the story, stroking my self-esteem, about how I took his breath away and how he made sure that before the interview was over he knew my name. A week or so later, we met again at a BSU weekend retreat. John ended up in line behind me at dinner. He said it was intentional. From there we ate together. We walked and talked and before he left he asked me to lunch the following Sunday after church. I agreed. Thus, sparked our romance. We were engaged about 6 weeks later and married the following August. Oh, and by the way, I did not make the Freshman ensemble.

If this was a story about dating, I’d have to insert the fact that I went to that particular BSU retreat hoping to catch the attention of another fellow. But God had a different plan for me. He had already chosen John, well before I did. So ladies, young and old, who are seeking a mate, don’t rely on your own selection but trust God who takes great care of his children. Even knowing this moment how life with John would end, I’d do it all over again. Yes, I’d cherish more memories. I’d be slower to nag and hopefully less selfish but I wouldn’t trade those years with John for anything. God was good to introduce that shy young 18 year old to the quiet young 19 year old.

John and I were married in August 1992 in his hometown. Our wedding was not large but neither of us cared. We went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for our honeymoon. He actually got pulled over for speeding that day. I remember the officer asking him what his hurry was and him replying, “I just got married, sir, I guess I’m a little anxious.” That shy young girl of now 19, almost died of embarrassment when he said that to the officer. Our first years were much like the start of any young marriage, I’m sure. We lived in a small duplex near campus and had little money but we didn’t care. We enjoyed life and we enjoyed each other. We spent the first 3 years of our marriage as college students both of us graduating in December 1995. After college we moved to Oklahoma City where we bought our first house and became active in various ministries at our church. In the summer of 2001 we felt God calling us to go over seas with a mission organization. At this point we had already been trying for years to have children and had been told by our doctor that we would never have them naturally. We were not opposed to other means of fertility treatment by any stretch of the imagination but we did not feel God’s peace in pursuing it at that time. Then one day, while serving as sponsors at youth camp, we knew God was calling us to missions. We went whole heartedly. We sold our house in less than 48 hours, signed our contract saying we would go overseas and 2 weeks later found out we were pregnant with our first child. God is good!! And His timing is perfect!! We still went. I remember our supervisor telling us that babies were born all over the world every day. We arrived in Russia in March 2002 and Elaina would be born in July of that year. Nineteen months later we would be blessed with Kaitlyn.

We spent almost 3 years in Russia. Those years were filled with challenge for sure but they were a tremendous time of growth for us both Spiritually and within our own marriage. We truly learned to rely on and trust God first and each other second. We expanded our world view and we learned how very privileged we truly were to have come to know Christ and to have walked under his umbrella of protection at young ages.

We returned from Russia in December 2005 and spent two years in Kansas City, Missouri where John attended Seminary. Through an unusual chain of events, that we could only attribute to God, we were called to Louisiana. John took a job with the Louisiana Baptist Convention and I stayed home with the girls. These were good years, when the girls were young, our income was steady, and life, although not without daily struggles, was for the most part easy. In those years, God blessed us with our third daughter, Hailey. John led music at a small, but passionate, church in Marksville. We started our homeschool journey. We bought a beautiful house. Life was good for the Ammons family.

John’s life verses for our family had always been the story in Leviticus where the Israelites followed the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day. When the cloud stopped, they stopped. And when it moved, they moved. Sometimes it would be in one place for quite sometime and others it would travel quickly. We cherished these verses and made our decisions based on them. I can remember feeling God’s peace in all of the major decisions we made, except one.

In late 2012 we were given information about being foster parents through the Louisiana Baptist Children’s home. We decided, because it was such a good thing to do, to pursue this opportunity. We went to the classes, filled out the forms and got our house up to par for inspection. But we never felt God’s peace. I remember talking with John about the uneasiness I felt and him sharing that same uneasiness. But yet, we continued to pursue it. In January 2013 we were placed with 3 year old twins, a boy and a girl. Beautiful babies that, in my guess, had lived with more hurt than I’ll see in a life time. We were not equipped to meet their needs. The stress on our children and our marriage was tremendous. There were many nights when Hailey, then 4, put herself to bed because I was trying so desperately to get the twins down. I remember how it would break my heart to see her curled up under the blankets knowing that I was not able to meet her needs.

Then in March 2013 a huge blow to our family. John came home from work early. I could tell there was a problem and I’ll always remember the look on his face when he told me he had been fired. For seven years he worked there with no known negative evaluation. He was let go immediately and when he asked if there was anything he did or could do all he was told was, “You aren’t what we are looking for in the future.” I was in disbelief. We had 3 of our own children, plus 2 foster children and now, other than the part-time job I worked from home, no income. The stress was mounting. And we had no idea that it was not even near peak yet.

John had not been feeling well since January. He had been to the doctor several times but they treated him for some random things and sent him away. Ultimately, the doctor decided it was all stress related. We could buy that. Our lives were extremely stressful. We decided to send the twins to another foster home. It was the only source of stress in our lives that we had any ability to control. That was a heart wrenching day. They clung to me crying, “Momma we want to stay with you”. At 3 they understood what was happening. And we fully understood the consequences of making a decision that was not accompanied by God’s peace.

Stress mounted as John looked for a job and his “grace period” of income ended. I tried to pick up more hours at work. And then May 17, 2013, John came home from his 4 mile walk (trying to reduce stress) to show me a spot on his leg which was hot to the touch and hard. He said it felt almost bruised. I didn’t have any answers so we just moved on. That hot spot would, one week later, prove to be a blood clot that would almost end his life. As that day went on, the pain in his side got worse. By bedtime he could hardly get in the bed. I offered to take him to the ER but he decided to wait until morning to go to the Urgent Care clinic. I remember crawling into bed that night annoyed. I had no idea how serious it was going to end up being. From my stance, it was one more thing. We had not paid for the COBRA insurance, so we had no insurance to speak of. Finances were already strapped, the family was stressed and now we were going to have to go to another doctor who would find nothing wrong and tell us it was all stress related. Yes, I believed that it was stress. There was much stress in our lives at that point.

The next morning we woke early. We took the girls to a friend’s house and John to the urgent care facility. I was, in fact, still extremely annoyed. I didn’t even open the door for him to get out of the car (one of the rungs on the ladder of guilt I carry today). We went in, filled out the paper work, slid the credit card and saw a doctor within 20 minutes. The doctor almost immediately concluded that it was his appendix and we needed to be at the ER. My annoyance was now replaced with concern. What about the stress diagnosis we had been getting for the past 5 months? Appendix, not such a big deal though, right? We were off to the ER and then shortly admitted to the hospital. Test after test came back inconclusive. It was finally determined to do exploratory surgery to remove what they knew to be a “mass” at the spot of his appendix. The cancer word never once came up. But wait, we have a blood clot remember. The doctor knew the blood clot was there before surgery but determined that surgery could wait no longer. The blood clot at this point, took up the entire length of his left leg. I remember the doctor coming in after surgery to talk with me and his almost excitement at having removed a “softball size” mass from his appendix. Some of his colon had been damaged as a result of the mass so they had to do a resection but other than the fact that he’d dehydrate more easily we’d see no real life changes. He said that they were sending the mass off for testing but that he was cautiously optimistic that it wasn’t cancerous. There it was the cancer word but said in such a way as to convince me that that was not our concern. The fear now was the blood clot. And it was a fear not to be contended with.

The following day, John would use his legs to help reposition himself in the bed. Almost instantly he started sweating. He turned gray. His blood pressure dropped. I called for the nurse, nothing. I went to the hall to get a nurse walking by and within minutes we had a team in the room asking questions, giving him oxygen and preparing to move him to ICU. I just stood in the corner, answering questions and trying not to get in any one’s way. When we reached the ICU door, the doctor stopped me. He told me he was sure the blood clot had broken off and gone into his heart and lungs and the next 24 hours were critical. He asked if I had anyone to call and left me standing there. I called my pastor first and then John’s sister. I felt helpless and scared. What was happening? What did this mean? I spent that night in the ICU waiting room sleeping in a chair waiting for the 6am visiting hours. It would be several more days before they would come back and tell us that the tests came back positive for cancer – stage 3 cancer of the appendix. The doctor reassured us that they had gotten it all. Never mind the fact that he didn’t even think it was cancerous when he first removed it. He would do chemo for precautionary measures but he assured us that they had gotten it all. John was going to be just fine. I tried to fill my thoughts with those of gloom and self pity but John was so stinking optimistic, I couldn’t. He kept saying that God would not allow him to survive a blood clot through the heart and lungs, if he was going to take him with cancer. His faith was strong, very strong.

When John was released from the hospital we decided to go home to Oklahoma where our family was. The doctor in Oklahoma wanted to start chemo as soon as possible just to be safe. So we packed and left in a week taking only what we needed for the time being. Filled with hope that God had pulled us through the worse, we would go to Oklahoma do the chemo and start to rebuild our lives. But that hope was short lived. Tests, upon arriving in Oklahoma, confirmed that not only had they not gotten all of the cancer, he was a stage 4. Cancer had already spread to his liver. His type of cancer was very aggressive and chemo treatment was not only necessary but we couldn’t wait much longer before starting it. “IF” she could get him through the first year, he had a really good chance of making it 7 or even 10 years. These words instilled a great deal of fear in me that day. We started chemo.

In September they scanned him again. This time the test came back clear. The chemo was not only working it had basically rid him of the cancer. In the words of the doctor, “you are cancer free!” The glitch, however, was that he was very sick at this point. Sicker than he had been when we first arrived. I remember the doctor telling us she was certain that the test would come back saying the cancer had gotten worse because of how sick he was. The clear test meant there was another problem. So we were sent to CT scan to try to figure it out. An abscess had grown near the site of the original surgery. We had it drained and he started to improve but a few weeks later another abscess. The fevers kept coming and he kept getting sicker. He lost a tremendous amount of weight and the pain was getting worse. It was now believed that his colon, basically, had torn and was leaking bile into his abdomen causing the abscesses. This was a rare side effect of one of the chemo drugs, the drug, in fact, that had proven to be the most successful. We were sent to see a colorectal surgeon who admitted us to the hospital that very day. He was hesitant to do surgery. He told us that John was well below the health limit for even considering surgery but there were really no other options and to anticipate he would spend time in the ICU again afterward. The next day was surgery. We gathered in the waiting room, anticipating the doctor’s return and his words that they would watch him closely and we would soon be back on the road to recovery. When the doctor met us after surgery, he did, in fact, tell us that they had taken him to ICU and would watch him closely. Those words were followed with the fact that they had found more cancer. It was all in his back, bowels, abdomen and liver. “And this is what we can see from opening him up” were his words. “There is no way to tell where else the cancer has gone.” WHAT??? What about the clear, cancer free scan we had only 5 weeks ago? What did this mean? What will I tell my girls? I walked out of the room in disbelief desperately trying to process what I had just heard.

Hope was fading, fun was long gone and stress was higher than ever…..

The next few months were filled with ups and downs. After John’s surgery, the surgeon suggested there was nothing more he could do and the oncologist wouldn’t see us. It was a vicious cycle, oncologist says we have to treat the infection – talk to the surgeon. Surgeon says, infection is caused by cancer. Kill the cancer. Kill the infection. We were at a huge crossroads of despair. The surgeon suggested we call hospice and try and get his pain under control. He called the oncologist and made his suggestion and she agreed to see us. Her plan, a hail mary pass at chemo again. It would not cure him but it would likely buy him more time. On the flip side, chemo for an individual this sick (malnutrition, known infection, recovering from major surgery) is very risky. We were warned that it could back fire and ultimately bring about his demise faster. But John was a fighter. He did not want to give up. So we took the chance – and a month later, we saw definite signs of improvement! We were filled with hope once again. The chemo was working. The chance for comfort and normalcy to return to our lives was visible. We even let ourselves dream about moving into a place of our own again and functioning as an American Family.

Then Christmas Day saw another decline. His health would decline from this point forward. There would be no more good days health wise for him. By New Year’s Eve the pain would be so great, he would be moved to a continuous morphine pump and before January was over he’d be on hospice.

I have never known anyone to suffer as much as John did. And I have never known anyone to hold to his faith like John did either. Yes, he was frustrated that his hands would not work to button a shirt or tie a shoe. He grieved at the idea of not being there for his girls. He even begged me to make sure that they don’t forget him. But he never took his eyes off of God. He was convinced that God was going to heal him but would always follow it with “even if he does not, Sharon, I will follow Him.” He was a spiritual rock in those last days. He clung to the hope in Christ trusting that God knew what was best for us. Trusting that God would take care of his wife and girls if he didn’t pull through. Just trusting in a God that loved him enough to save him from his sins even if that meant pulling him from this world. I want my girls to know and live the deep faith that their daddy lived.

They say time heals all wounds. I will be interested to see if that holds true. To have loved deeply means to have lost deeply. (I know this is a famous quote from someone, but I didn’t take the time to look up who.)

I look forward in life with the realization that it is possible that my life is not yet half done. Of course we are not guaranteed tomorrow but it is likely that there will be many more tomorrows for me and my girls and quite possible that the number of tomorrows will exceed the number of yesterdays. What will my tomorrows be filled with? Will cancer, although seemingly gone, continue to steal from my tomorrows?

There is only one constant for me to cling to – God. I can not pretend to understand the reason behind the events of the yesterdays or to imagine the events for the tomorrows but I can proclaim to know the One who does. Faith, my friend, is stronger than understanding. I can not pretend to know whether the events of tomorrow will bring laughter or more tears but I can rely on the One who does. Hope, my friend, is stronger than despair. I can not pretend to know how the events of the yesterdays will play on my girls tomorrows but I can trust the One who does. Trust, my friend, is stronger than fear.

My Story – The Summary Version

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.

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