• sarah@healingeyes.org

Tag Archives: stomach cancer

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

Quotes from: Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby

“When you trust that God always gives his best, you will devote your heart to whatever assignment God gives because you know in that role you can experience everything God has in his heart for you.”

“When God gives you a directive you can be sure he has already considered every factor. ”

“When your life is centered in Gods’ activity, he will rearrange your thinking. God’s ways and thoughts are so different from yours that they will often appear wrong, unloving, or impossible. You will often realize that the task he assigns is far beyond your power or resources to accomplish. as soon as you recognize that the job appears humanly unattainable, you need to be ready to believe and to trust him completely.”


One night I asked for more.
One night I asked for it all to end.
One night I asked to save me from the pain.
One night I screamed out, “I give up, take my life!”


One day God said, ‘Ok’.

One day at a time is my motto ever since Cancer. Now more than ever it is becoming clearer as to how important that saying is. Today I purchased heavy duty tupperware bins to pack just enough clothing and necessities for the new direction in my life. From a house packed full of things and 4 cars in a driveway I am reduced to 2 tupperware bins. When I made the decision to follow the unthinkable .. become childlike in my trust of God’s plan for my new chapter in life I never thought it would mean this. Each day I am faced with imposing doubt of what used to be precious to me. To surrender it all, risk it all to find a bigger purpose in life…oh what madness..but what if by chance faith can win. To have fear is to doubt..how can I doubt the one who wants the best for me, he wouldn’t send me away if it wasn’t a path that would eventually lead to the best for me. Yes there will be pain, ups and downs, trials, but oh what sweet victory to truly live! Find the beauty in the rain, the sun, the simple act of breathing, appreciating each blessing every day as if it were my last. To not live in limbo of the future…without worrying about each imposing day ahead of me..can we all not live like that? Trapped by our own worry and doubt of a future we can’t control.

Step out with me to see a world full of hope and a touch less sorrow. The pain of our past and present will always remain but to seek ways to be happy amidst the storms of life, now that’s worth doing. Finally a challenge worth accepting.. 34 years in the making (with a 13 year intermission of love and life lessons)!

So what am I up to? Well I have eluded to it in my previous posts..something about God’s calling and a remote island. Putting the pieces together? In April I will be leaving my home, friends, and family to follow a small voice inside that says, ‘Go’.  Leave behind what is familiar and have faith in the impossible…
Walk with others strong in their faith, learn to live a simpler life and stop trying to DO everything and control each day. God doesn’t always give specific details of his plan but nudges you in the right direction. I have been given a nudge to help out at Lighthouse Ministries, BE around others in need, BE around God’s love, and BE with children. Along the way if my skills in technology, design, and leadership can be used than by all means God will make it happen. If I am hungry or need shelter than God will provide it. If I am sad or in pain than God will be there to hold me. All of this is foreign to me, and yet it feels so right to trust .. to give up controlling since I have learned thru much suffering and loss that its futile to fight God’s will.

I have started a fundraising website again but this time instead of going to just heal from Andy’s loss… I am going to follow a dream, an awakening of my heart and soul to God.. what madness it is:)  God brought me out of my comfort zone to show me love he can only give to a broken heart.

I will be staying at a wonderful lady’s house again, in a quaint room with showers from the rain that falls from the heavens. My belongings will be simple and my diet will be limited (I never was a good cook…kinda lazy on that front). My income will be cut in half while I attempt to still work online. My puppies will be staying with a family member and thanks to prayer I will not have to separate Yoshi and Miko from each other. The rest of the details will work themselves out each day as I lead up to my flight.

Andy can you believe it!? Out of great pain will come great hope! It’s going to be ok…

Donate here: Fundraising Page

Healing Eyes

treading lightly

This rant is for cancer caregivers only.. If you aren’t one you better stop reading because you just won’t get it…If your a friend you may think I am losing it so it’s best you stop reading now:)

The problem with online blogs that are shared with ANYONE is you have to feel obligated to put disclaimer on what is said, for good reason, because there are some things you want to scream out to those who are going thru what you are experiencing. .. but on the other hand some things better left quiet. That’s the hard balance I am feeling right now, I know that if i share how I feel at this moment I will reach someone else out there who is in a very similar place right now. They could be feeling very sad and alone and need to read this post to validate how they are feeling. Is that more important than the few who will read this and not understand and look at me and my situation wrongly?

I tread lightly, I put the walls up and ever so slightly let them down, but as soon as they fall I scurry to build them back up because that’s when you are so vulnerable to letting others in. There is so much you may want to share with others in order to not feel alone, going thru cancer with a spouse is a never ending feeling of dismay. It’s not the diagnosis or the treatments that scars the most. If you are at that point treasure those moments where you can be there for your loved one, you have a purpose, you have something to do, and you are needed. If you are now at the point of ‘waiting’ after treatments, not  knowing when/if cancer comes back than please know what you are feeling.. that feeling of hopelessness and loneliness…it’s not abnormal. It’s not easy, there will be days where you can breathe but they are few compared to the days you suffocate. The weight of what was lost is sometimes unbearable, you can lie to yourself and say this will pass, it won’t….this suffocation is forever your dark enemy. Ah I gasp for the time lost but I smile for the time gained, forever caught in the in-between.

I had a reprieve for a couple weeks, an escape from reality. Ah wait, no, it wasn’t an escape, just a change in scenery because cancer still followed me across the big wide ocean. It’s affects were not as potent because I couldn’t see the pain Andy goes thru every day, I knew it was happening, but I didn’t have to see it. I needed that time to regather my strength. Within a day of coming back to reality I am drained all over again. It happens fast! The normal routine sets in, you need to find ways to counteract it. I try so hard to motivate myself to fight the suffocation. No one can really do it for you, its a choice that as a caregiver you have to make. Will you give up? Will you feel lost? Try to breathe…Fill your lungs with air and scream if you have to. Your loved one won’t come back like they were before cancer. We all change…..Find ways to refresh, smile, breathe again. Each moment when you steal that lost moment back, you see your soul mate like he was…treasure it…and remember those moments, no matter how few, will come back. Well I hope.

Healing Eyes

This is the time of night when it sinks in… It’s not the fear of cancer returning.. It’s the realization that this survival came with repercussions. Serious side effects and unknowns on a daily basis.
My husband, is in the hospital and I am at home. This is not an abnormal thing anymore, this is going to happen more often than we want.. Or thought.
All the meetings pre surgery where the doctor said life long changes, side effects, complications are coming true. We lost all that detail in the fog of confusion during cancer. Now it comes back to haunt us.

It sinks in… We can’t go back. Our life took a drastic detour where the signs are unclear and mismarked.

I found myself googling symptoms of nausea post gastric cancer. It wasn’t very useful.. I shouldn’t be surprised. There is no hand book on it. Most of the time this surgery is for weight loss which is the total opposite of why we had it done. Yet I fell into the trap of looking for answers and to control what’s happening. No luck.

Maybe tomorrow the doctor will do a scope and peak in to find anything. Most likely there won’t be any cause and we will have to deal with that realization that answers sometimes don’t exist.

Healing Eyes

falling … no end in sight

It only takes a week to be set all the way back to zero again. You can be moving along thinking things are getting better and then it just takes a second and it all starts again. Every memory, moment, feeling, fear, all rush back. We are less than 3 days away from the dreaded and anticipated CT Scan. Three months of waiting, wondering, dreading… what will show up this time. What is next? It must be the anticipation that is causing Andy to be so sick this week. Every night he’s sick, can’t eat, can’t keep food down. People don’t like to talk about things when they go bad. Pain hurts everyone, which must be why its a topic better left unspoken. People ask you, ‘How’s it going’? but they don’t really want to hear the truth. Sometimes its easier to just smile and nod with the standard ‘Ok’ response.

Less than 3 days away…

The familiar drive to the hospital…the cold entrance doors…the blank stares and fake smiles from the reception desk..that awful smell of cleaning supplies and sickness..the flickering fluorescent lights. Others sitting and waiting, all for various reasons, who knows if that person has cancer or just broke a leg.

Less than 3 days away… means nothing really, cancer or no cancer we still have no stomach. Try to comprehend what that means!!!!! You can’t eat your favorite meals, you can’t find comfort in food, eating hurts, socializing to eat isn’t enjoyable, its never the same again.  I have a stomach so I don’t really know what it’s like, its not fair for me to explain. But really! That stomach really is a necessity, you don’t appreciate something until it’s gone.  When doctors say, ” you can live without a stomach”, look at them and say, “really? You try it!”  Almost a year ago when this all started we had no idea how far down we would fall, I think even now we haven’t fallen to the bottom yet. .. it’s a test to see how subterranean we can go.

Healing Eyes

Week 2 Begins

It’s been almost a week since Andy tried his first step back to reality. I have waited quite awhile before writing on it, I am not quite sure why. Perhaps i just was procrastinating, or trying to feel we could have a normal week. It’s strange, when you go thru a traumatic event you never know how you will come out afterwards. One can’t compare one trauma to another, just as you can’t compare one person to another. A trauma will stay with you forever, it marks you as unique. Uniquely qualified, certifiably un-normal. hmm one could go pretty deep down that path of thought. I think I best come back up for air and talk reality.

His first day back was unique. I drove him to work, that was the first thing not-normal. Then we both walked in together and contained our composure. Success was found when we made it to his desk and I pulled out my computer and went about working remotely (second thing not-normal, working from Kalamazoo was a first for me). Gotta keep the mind going and the money flowing. Andy busied himself with catching up on things, he was energized by the change I think. In plain truth, it was very very nice to see my Andy again. He was happy I believe, but that was only my observation. By the end of the day  he was exhausted, we both were. It was a good exhaustion that was long overdue. Not exhausted from an ER visit or another never ending parade of doctors listing out ‘what ifs’ and ‘if then’ statements.

We went back another day that week for an encore performance. It was just as wonderful and therapeutic.

Now its week 2..whatever shall we do. I’m not sure and its 9 pm on a Sunday night. Tomorrow is so far away. If i’ve learned anything these last months is that anything is possible. One minute is as different as the next. I will be optimistic for this week and not let myself listen to the pessimistic perspective. This week we will wake up each day and breathe in…and than decide.

One thing is for certain. I love Andy, Andy loves Sarah. Nothing will change that its a tale as old as time (yes that cues the song from Beauty and the Beast..hmm which is the Beauty and whom is the beast. I always thought andy was more of the Beauty since he brings out the best in me)… cough cough yes soooo mooshy:)

Healing Eyes

My name is Inigo Montoya and you killed my father..

I read ‘Princess Bride’ to Andy as a bedtime story now. Our life is a lot like the cliffs of insanity, we have climbed them before and nearly fallen off but with a quick jab of the fist into the rock we climbed above the loss of life and dreams we held so tight to.
Now the story replays as we climb the cliffs of insanity once more. This time the cliffs are higher and more dangerous. The chance of falling ever more devastating than loss of life we never knew.

  • Fezzik the giant is like the huge tumor that was big and dumb inside Andy’s tummy, we smashed that out with a rock.


  • The Sicilian thinks he is so wise and can predict everything, plan each day, scheme and plot, and nothing can go wrong and yet the Man in Black gains on him.

Inconceivable… I dont think that word means what you think it means.

  • Princess buttercup has lost true love and vows to never love again..she doesn’t know that true love is still trying to save her.
  • The man in black is delayed in the pit of despair while his true love is to marry another
  • Miracle Max asks what is there to live for? Too bluff, Truuue love…there is no greater thing than TRUE LOVE!

Our story is of True love, it can’t be broken by loss of a child, or of a dream to adopt, its inconceivable to separate Andy’s heart from mine. We started with a diagnosis of cancer, which then turned into surgery, and now it is ‘living with cancer’. Even though the next few months will still be more treatment with unknown results, cancer will always be there, it will forever be our cliffs of insanity..

My name is Gastric Cancer Stage 3b, you have killed our dreams.. prepare to die.

Healing Eyes

It’s inconceivable…I don’t think that word means what you think…

A picture is worth a thousand words!
It’s only a holding area for food….some people elect for this surgery. Total gastric bypass surgery.
Mind blowing but it is possible to live a full life after..

The date is set…November 26th 5am arrive.
Now then that just means November is party month! And party we will…any and all food will be eaten..(maybe not squid though, it’s not that great, fact).


Healing Eyes