• sarah@healingeyes.org

Tag Archives: cancer sucks

What to do with this all?

Reality sets in that this is for real and the finality of it all is a heavy burden. This blog has come a long way since I started it for when my first husband and I wanted to adopt. Then it shifted to Cancer. Then it shifted to Grief. Then it shifted to a Non-Profit to help others. Now I don’t know what to make of it because I can’t quite shift it back to cancer and grief! That wouldn’t be very professional since it a website to learn about the work we are doing in Eastern Uganda.

Healing Eyes is about helping those in pain see past their pain and once they do their eyes will open and the healing can begin. It’s the meaning behind the name! We are working with a village in Uganda to set up a small school and clinic to help widows and orphans in a community. 200+ kids need help….

Now we have run into a little bump along the road and gives us a left turn back to cancer. Why? It makes no sense and yet I have to try and spin it in a positive faith based fuzzy happy feeling in order to cope. God can use all of this for his good. Ok…..why does it hurt so much to admit now I have cancer and I will never have a child of my own.

Yes, I have 200+ kids in Africa. Yes I can have surgery to remove the tumor. Yes its curable. Ok….but that’s all Science and logic speaking. Our hearts don’t work that way. The heart feels innumerable amounts of pain when diagnosed with a terrible disease like cancer. Put any words around it you like and its still Cancer.

So everyone from the first days of this blog that watched it start with hope to be dashed by death and then to be reborn again. I don’t know what to say other than its an eventful journey at least and you’ll never know what happens next.

Healing Eyes is not ending but will somehow turn all this around to show God’s handiwork and somehow see past the pain for healing to begin.

Healing Eyes

Lost Memory of my Husband

Sweet Andy 

Found a video from a year ago… God I miss your kiss!

Healing Eyes

Empty me

I cry for my love

I cry for his pain

I cry for memories gone

and memories to never be.

I cry for the pain endured

to finally let go the chains

that held him on this earth.

I weep tonight – I weep for the day yet to come.

For when tomorrow comes without you I grieve even more.

I am left with pieces of a man

pieces of a blessing I held so dear.

If life goes on amidst the pain

then God take my life, take it and make it free.

Free from pains deadly grip upon my heart.

Let others feel my pain thru your plan in me.

My eyes only see fear and doubt but thru my heart find the crack to break me more.

 

A song someone shared with me a few days ago… Thank you friend.

Keep making me. by Sidewalk Prophets

Healing Eyes

Where in the World is Sarah

New plan…

50 states where is the best place to live and work?

I have to have enough followers to cover some of the states so I can get a good feel for what state would be good for me. I’m 34 so I’m at a good age to start all over. I have no kids to find a school for. This should be easy.

I got myself to an island I sure can get myself to a basic states of the United States. Doesn’t require a uhaul or even a car. Oh yea, requirement, must have mass public transportation. New York could work, not so sure about Chicago though..kinda pricey. Does Atlanta, Georgia have good public transportation I wonder?

And no I am not trying to be like Jonah and going the opposite direction I am supposed to. This is completely logical and a suitable alternative to living on an island in the Caribbean. No, it is not like a paradise everyone imagines. Really..get past a 2 week marker and its really not paradise. It gets to be rather tiny and claustrophobic. The heat is intense, the bugs are well buggy, and the prices are so insane.

No I am not ‘running’. Just re-prioritizing my location. Yea that works. God won’t notice that loop hole.

I doubt anyone really wants to hear about the mundane routine of following God and all that God stuff. It’s rather boring actually. It’s not like this morning I got up and picked up a random person on the street to take her to McDonalds because I had this squeeze on my heart and a voice in my head when I drove past her.

That’s crazy talk.

It’s not like I got some free mango’s from a guy I have gotten to know who has fallen on hard times and totally understands grief and cancer.

That’s just boring talk.

It’s not like I just swam in the ocean under a beautiful son and butterflies flittered over my head as if God was enjoying spoiling me.

That Sh**t doesn’t happen in real life.

God doesn’t try and give a grieving widow a break by showering her with sun and blue water and mangos. No, it doesn’t work that way.

I need to find another state to wander around for say 40 years in. That can totally work. That way I would eat more since it would have restaurants and a Target store.

This is how twisted my mind works. I doubt God’s love because I don’t think I deserve it. I don’t understand why I get to have beauty all around me and an ocean by my side, the sun above me, free time to think and write. All of these things I can’t fathom, why me? I watched Andy die. I was with him during the surgery, the chemo treatments, the vomiting, the feeding tube, the pain and sadness of realizing he was not going to last. I am so brainwashed that now I think I am only to see that. To always be in pain and have no time for myself. To not allow myself to be happy. I can’t be happy when I know Andy is dead. My mind will not let me indulge in such an idea. To pick up your cross and follow Jesus means to suffer constantly. Idle time makes me go mad…I need to be doing something and be busy or else I am letting others down and letting Andy down.

So let’s vote…And seriously I know I have followers and you are just dying to push the vote button and let your voice be heard! Now is your chance! Where should the wandering widow missionary wanna be live?

Healing Eyes

Thank you to a long lost friend

I’m trying to think of something inspiring to say. What can you say when all is lost and only grief fills the gaps?

I got an inspiring email (and donation woot woot) from an old friend of Andy’s (and mine) this morning. I think it was around 2am. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage from others to reach out and connect after so many years. (it can go both ways). I cried over and over when I read the letter. It’s always nice to read others perspective of Andy’s and mine relationship. Especially when its from one of Andy’s childhood friends and someone who knew us before we married and was in our wedding. Oh Andy…you are so missed by many. You were an amazing guy and the best soulmate I could ask for. If I am doomed to wander this earth with your soul haunting me I would ask for no other. She said when Andy first mentioned me to her that he was ‘electric’. I can just imagine that green hair skinny 19 year old saying he met this gimpy girl at college. He had no filter you see. Some people think before they speak but not my Andy…he spoke straight from his heart and was so amazing. Cancer may have took that Andy away in the end but I remember that Andy, I feel in love with that Andy.

I am faced with many decisions on this island and what options to say no to. I will explore each one but I also can’t let some distract me from my mission. The main mission is to grieve and be reborn. To rediscover who I am after a long marriage that ended so painfully. How do other support such a mission?

With words
With memories of Andy
With encouragement
With patience

For the ‘God’ mission? Well that is a mystery. I guess in order to keep doing what God says to do I need to have a body that functions and that requires food and shelter. Seems easy enough to support that. Now for me to not give up hope and doubt every decision I make..that will be a true test of perseverance.

I persevere because I must. I persevere because if I don’t who will? I’ve been avoiding the one thing that’s clear and that is I am to write. To write more than a blog.. to write Andy’s story and mine. Perhaps someone out there going thru cancer needs that. So give me the words God, guide my mind and heart to speak the truth about what pain and doubt is. How a disease can rob you of both and leave chaos in its wake.

Healing Eyes

Second guessing

Jumping into the whole God world head first is proving to be difficult.

I am not ‘Godly’, I am just Sarah. A wife, businesswoman, car lover, dog lover, writer, artist, and pianist. I crochet and enjoy gardening. I do not play with kids and I am not a teacher of kids. I can’t even have any kids biologically…Andy and I tried and there is no little Andy running around with his hazel eyes.

I know how hospitals work, the ins and outs of cancer centers, how to use an IV pole, how to set up a feeding tube bag, medication doses, nausea remedies, eating without a stomach, and watching someone starve to death. Those are my skills!

I can work on computers, lead projects, and communication with global teams, travel, play video games, bike long distances, rollerblade, and even teach dog agility. Those are my assets.

I am tired and ready to give up, to realize my grief stricken mistake of moving to an island believing in something bigger to escape grief. Move back to Michigan and renting an apartment and working in an office is quite suitable to my skill set. I could even take up a medical career since I have 2 years experience in care giving.

It’s acceptable!
I miss Andy.. I want my life back!

The Caribbean sea is a prison and my mind is the torture device to keep me in a fog. Over and over I see who I was and long to have it back. The Emergency Room visits and all the nurse questions I can handle. I have notes and records for all of that. Every bit of that old life I would gladly take back if I could just see Andy again. To hold him in my arms and see his smile. I am a wife with a ghost husband.

What so called ‘God’ takes a 34 year old man and gives him a disease and lets him starve to death. While allowing his wife to watch him die, and in the end makes the necessary requests for the final narcotic pain relieving drugs to be given to him so that he can die in peace. Why do Christians always say, ‘It’s God’s will’. … ‘It’s God’s plan’.  When really its just cuz cancer sucks and we are stuck on this earth where there is nothing you can do but suffer thru it.

We can choose to cling to words in a book. We can choose to drink the pain away…take pills..exercise a lot..or just ignore the pain by shoving it deep down in the abyss.  Hundred of outlets and different religions are at our disposal. Is there really one magical answer? I don’t think so. It’s going to take several tools to get past the pain of death…deciphering which ones to combine is the age old question. Why does God allow so much pain for the ones he ‘loves’?

I remember how I avoided ‘God’ blogs because I didn’t want to hear the cliché over and over about it’s God’s will and God gives me strength. Now it seems I have turned into that cliché and it irks me. Andy and I did not find our strength in that. We talked thru things, we discussed our problems, and we worked as a team. Before Andy died the drugs took that side of him away. He wasn’t coherent enough to be my partner anymore. He was a shadow of Andy’s personality. I lived with a ghost already dead.

I find it really hard to turn to God for everything. 14 years of the opposite mind set is hard to just reverse in a matter of months. I am not even sure if it should be entirely reversed because there is some validity to living outside a bubble of faith. Dose of reality and pain can give different perspective on things.

Now what to do…? Stay on this island and still test this ‘God’ theory out and see if it’s for real by studying the bible. Or. Go back to the states and figure out what I want to do and what I am good at now that I am a widow. Or maybe there is a middle ground.

Either way cancer sucks! And Grieving sucks even more! Us elite cancer caregiver survivors wobble between guilt and pain and loss. What could have been done differently? What did I do wrong? Why cancer? What now?

Healing Eyes

Prison

I am being dangerous and typing outside by the salt air. Most likely damaging my laptop.. sometimes you have to sacrifice precious things to get more. I like the sound of the waves anyways and inside its muffled.

So I’m laying outside trying to get over my night of nightmares and lost memories of Andy. I tossed and turned last night between my reality of an island to the memories of Andy. Sometimes I confuse the two and feel my dreams are my reality.. or perhaps its wishful thinking.

I woke suddenly from a voice in my head that said, “Shmookie Poo I love you”. Over and over it was said in my head and I couldn’t shake it. Andy used to call me that in his high pitch cute voice. He used to be such a goofball before cancer robbed him of his very personality. Sometimes in the midst of pain you can’t see what is being taken away from you.. instead you slowly ache and feel an emptiness taking over. Looking back I know that Andy was dying mentally and I couldn’t stop it. The pain of that was far worse than any physical pain I saw. The physical pain was easy enough, you go to the hospital and the nurses pump him with drugs. Then you get released and you keep pumping him with drugs. The effects of the drugs and physical pain will then take away the very personality you fell in love with. I missed my Andy and I couldn’t do anything to pull him back. As a last result I pulled myself back in order to break from the pain and breathe. I pulled my heart back in order to save it from the pain. Foolish me since I still am in pain and it didn’t save me from anything. I could look ahead and I knew he wasn’t going to make it long, I knew I was to become a widow. How was I going to survive if he took me down while his ‘body’ was still alive. His body alive, ha, that’s so hard to even type because how can you call a skeleton with skin a live body. He was robbed day by day of his ability to live, oh the misery he must have endured inside. Stuck in his jail of a body, screaming to get out.

Yesterday I was able to walk around an old penitentiary on the island, it was long over grown with trees and grass. The walls were falling apart and the ground was rubble. If I think about it, that place was full of ghosts long gone. Andy was trapped in his body as if a prisoner in a earthly body. So much suffering.

 

I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’s book “A grief observed”. I read it once before Andy died and it affected me but reading now after his death it feels more real. The words in it speak stronger to me.

Maybe Andy and I had become all that we could be and God chose to end it so that a new lesson could be taught. We had reached our high and it was time to break us. “His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down”.

My heart is ash – my bones are broken – Grief consumes me and I can not breathe. I trust no one and I let no one in again. I did that once and that trust shook my walls and broke my love. My love once lost is lost forever.

Bit bitter? Perhaps, but what are words if not to be spoken and felt. Maybe honesty about how we feel is important.

Am I holding so tight to Andy’s memory to prove some loyalty? To raise our love onto a pedestal too high to be true? There is no perfect love! Only perfect dreams of that love. It doesn’t exist like we imagine, just as the American dream is a fantasy. No one is truly happy or content because we are all sinners and broken. We lie about our feelings, we put fake faces on to hide the reality of our heart. There is no security  in this life..It can all be break and fall in an instant. Why put our faith in a world that is broken…

Repeatedly I wish for the grief to end..the tight hold grief has on my heart is unending. Time stands still as if I am waiting for something to change. When in all likelihood I am stuck. Perhaps I am in the prison cell curled up in the corner with no hope, or maybe I am knocking the steel door begging to be released. I’m innocent! Whatever did I do to deserve this pain? The prison guard silently walks past to hear another say the same story of woe. When will we ever learn, our peace and happiness is not to come..wait and breathe for another crack in the chains.

Amazing Grace…Chains

Healing Eyes

Here goes…everything

What if the only thing holding us back from making a change is just not knowing how? Or thinking it has to take a lot to make a difference! But it’s not that complicated. Support someone at your church or find an organization to help…cancer research always needs help.

or…if you like reading about my journey and seeing what happens next you can play a part in the story 🙂

I am back on my island after a week of closure and painful goodbyes to a life I once knew. Perhaps I am back here to appreciate the ‘little’ again. Either way I didn’t want to wake up this morning and try to be happy but a knock on my door forced me out into the world.

Today I went to get my jeep and Stephan introduced me to some Jeep guys on the island that give tours to tourists. I ran into Dwayne and asked How he was and he said fine and I said fine. And then… he said the oddest thing.. ‘hmm Not really fine but does it really matter?’  Man he is so right! We all say ‘I’m fine’ but really its just a blow off to the person asking and the person asking sighs a huge relief when they don’t really have to care. Keep on going on with our own lives and forget that maybe that person is hurting.

On my way home I broke down and stopped at the grocery story to buy some provisions:

  1. 1 loaf of bread
  2. lettuce
  3. red pepper
  4. dressing
  5. 1 gallon of water
    = $20.94

bread, lettuce, dressing, pepper

bread, lettuce, dressing, pepper

Receipt

I am appreciating my simple tuna salad sandwhich and green leaf lettuce salad. I have lost it all and trying to find a new way to live.

Is this what you would call a ‘Faith Walk’ ?

I am going to be a Full time Entrepreneur Missionary to help those who are, well, In Need! Is it maybe just that simple?!

Shall I label this a ‘mission from God’ ?  Nah! It’s more of a mission to bring back relationships and bring back faith in each other to do good even when it seems impossible. If God sent me here for that than that’s OK by me. If I have to swallow my pride and humility to get others to support that cause than I’ll do it! I’ll throw myself out there and ask for Support…ask for others to join in this movement to just HELP people and save lives in the process.

It just takes one small step of faith and Going.

So here I am God…try and prove to me how this works and I’ll give it my all. If you can’t prove faith to me than good luck proving it to others cuz I am stubborn.


 

What do I need?

Food – ~ $50 a week

Water – $.60 a gallon = ~$5 a week

Rent = $800 a month

Gas = $30 a week = $120 a month

In Mid July I leave my paying ‘job’ and lose my benefits and steady paycheck. Let’s see what God can do to keep me going as long as he wants to use me for his ‘job’.


 

What can you do?

I’ll take references to churches/organizations, individuals, friends, friends of friends, anyone that wants to support the homeless and children of St. Croix thru my shattered life. Donations are always welcome (yes even $5 makes a difference…I mean that gives me water to drink:)

What will Sarah really be doing on an island? and how do I get personal updates…?

Easy I am setting up an email subscriber list thru mailchimp that will allow you to stay up to date with the mission. I’ll just need to collect Supporters names and email addresses to make it official.


 
Donate Button with Credit Cards

 

 

Healing Eyes

Cancer sucks more when left behind

I sit alone in Newark airport About to eat a burger beige my next flight.
A year ago Andy and I would have been back from our Jamaica trip together.
A year ago he was alive (mostly since cancer sucks)

I miss you Andy!
I miss our travels together!

It seems now I am to travel alone now

Cancer sucks !!!!!!!!!

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Healing Eyes

Walking with Andy

Today I walked with Andy reliving our moments of love and pain together. It was and is our 14th Wedding Anniversary today. We got married at 20 years old and never looked back.

Coming back ‘home’ to michigan to take care of Andy’s ashes and also the symbolism of it being our wedding anniversary has weighed heavy on me for days now. Finally the day of our wedding vows arrived but the ashes need to wait until this weekend when his best friend can drive me the 8 hours to where Andy and I fell in love.

It’s hard to know where to begin with my day but I know that today was planned out for me and I didn’t even realize it. I had 4 things that were predetermined today. Everything else that happened was unimaginable when I first started off on my journey today

1. Doctor Appointment
2. Hair appointment
3. Lunch appointment
4. Meeting with Andy’s past doctor and close friend

After I finished by doctor’s appointment I made my way to Starbucks to get some tea for a friend back on the island. Little did I know that when I walked in this coffee shop the first words I would hear were ‘Cancer’. Ok a bunch of woman were sitting by the door discussing something cancer related. I decided to just walk by and get my tea and go. But there was this little voice in my head that said, “Pay Attention Sarah, I have a blessing lined up for you”. So what should I do? Well I walked right back out of the coffee shop with my tea and stopped at my truck, paused, struggled, and then turned right around and swallowed my fear of people and said hello to this group of ladies. “Hi, I may sound crazy but I heard you mention cancer”. I found out they were brainstorming ways to improve the cancer center that Andy and I went to…they all worked there. LOL! So I then told them a very brief version of my life and Andy’s death and just soaked in the blessing of connecting with people who UNDERSTOOD cancer.

Then I walked out feeling choked up and also a bit glad I took the courage to speak out to a bunch of stranger.

Now I looked over and there was the hospital Andy died in almost 6 months ago. Alright…the little voice started again and this time took control of my steering wheel. Minutes later I was standing in the ICU on the 4th floor just outside the room Andy died in. What was I doing here????!!! What crazy widow revisits the place where their husband dies on there 14th wedding anniversary?! I stared blankly at the door and the glass window which months ago held the image of Andy connected to wires and tubes. Room 403. I asked the nurse if I could sit in the room. Seriously! Yes, I broke down and cried and just soaked in the memories of that fateful night.

Andy had led me to this room.

Andy’s body was gone but my mind wouldn’t let go.

Now what? Well, guess what?! I kept on walking the path laid out before me….

Walking

The cancer center is just next door, sooo what did I do? Yup, I went there next. I followed the bread crumbs to the place of diagnosis and treatments. Once inside the doors I stared at the receptionist and said, “this is going to sound crazy…but…. can I speak to Katie, my deceased husband’s nurse”?  Short answer I was allowed back but not after a few back and forths and crying and then a stranger holding me and yea…I kinda broke down.

Nurse Katie…She was there when Andy first got dosed with chemo. She was there to watch me and Andy sit for hours and hours in those chemo chairs. She saw the dramatic change in Andy after the surgery. She saw our pain and she was helpless to fix it. The nurses at the cancer center see so much pain come thru there doors. I told her she meant a lot to Andy and I and that we appreciated her kindness. In return she told me that me and Andy were undeniably soulmates. That when she saw us together those long chemo days that she was amazed at how much love we had for each other and how we tried to find any kind of joy in the situation. We even tried to get her to say funny words like, poop in the pool. She remembered our dogs too. The one things she told me that I needed to hear on this day was that she saw our love for each other and she saw the change in Andy’s health. He died months before he died! She saw it too! I am not alone in that memory! It’s not my fault! Let go of the guilt!

My morning didn’t end here. After my hair appointment (where my favorite stylist ever did an amazing job, as always, to my hair) and therapy session with my hair stylist:). I have to say Amanda is great at cutting hair but even better at listening to a crazy lady ramble on and on about God this and God that. LOL. Who am I these days? You would think God has taken over my body and really has complete control over everything now.

Then I drove past my old house…I then turned back around and marched up the stairs and rang the door bell. Seriously, I did! Well I was led to do it. The guy that opened the door was a blessing. He let me in my old house and showed me how much they loved this house. How much joy and laughter was in this house now. There are 5 kids living in this house! Amazing! A lot of it looked the same and yet different. They kept some of the paintings up and the kitchen was still gorgeous. The old computer room was now a kids room for 3 (pink walls). And Andy you were wrong! There was hardwood floors under that carpet in Perfect condition! I told you so:). The mother in law also lived there and she spoke Spanish. He translated to her who I was and why I was crying in there living room. Oh my word…how did I get the courage to do that? Well this closure was just what I needed. He talked to me about his experiences with people in hospitals he has helped and told me how much they loved the house. He even said the one neighbors mentioned I was a nice lady and that my husband had passed away. Upstairs he had taken some shelves andy made and was using them…I burst into tears of joy. Andy lives on!!!!

Then after that…

I went to lunch with Andy’s old classmate from high school. She shared stories of how Andy was in Chemistry class. I guess he was super smart even though he looked like a punk. Oh Andy.

Free Cookies

Free Cookies

Then after that…

I went to the other cancer center downtown and saw Dr. Abby my friend. I hate to cut short on this part but I do detest long blogs:). She as always had some great therapy for me in our talk. The sarcasm and joking about some new business ideas was very enlightening. When you go thru cancer and see so much pain you can’t seem to avoid hospitals. The nurses and doctors can become family to you and a level of support no other family member can give you. They are with you from the start and you may get frustrated at each other but it still is a journey thru hell together.

Finally I went to Hope lodge. A place where during Andy’s surgery I was given a bed and comfort. There was a journal that I needed to find on one of the 3 floors. The guy at the front desk was very nice and we went to each floor looking for this public journal where visitors can tell there story. When I had stayed there I wrote an entry in it and I wanted to re-read it. Then I wrote another entry for today in memory of Andy. By this point I actually didn’t cry that much. The guy that helped me did the one thing that not many people think to do…. he asked me what my husbands name was and in that moment made Andy real again. All a grieving person wants to do is bring that person back to life in some way, even if for just a moment. Having someone ask his name is the most precious gift you can give.

 

I faced each terror at each building I was led back to and finally gained some peace.
God or Andy or both wanted to give me an anniversary gift today…a gift of peace and love.

I LOVE YOU ANDREW STACILAUSKAS… Andy’s song for me today.. Click Here

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