Monday, July 09, 2012

Amanda's Letter

July 9, 2012
Nashville, Tennessee, USA  

Dear Friends,

Life is about decisions. There are a series of decisions we make every single day, from the routine like what to eat for breakfast, to the significant like what to do with our lives and where to spend our energies. This is an extremely difficult letter to write but I want to update you on developments of the last few days and some critical decisions that I have made.

In my last blog post on July 1, I shared with you that I was in the hospital and the chemotherapy was not working against the cancer, and the cancer was spreading. The doctors and I met several times to discuss the best and most effective next steps – lots of small and large decisions

There were two critical decision points I want to share: the first one came on Saturday, June 30, when we learned my kidneys were no longer working properly – the tumors were interfering with their operations. There were two decisions to consider in this case, either: 1) to do nothing, which meant I would have a matter of days to live, or 2) to do a procedure to help restore kidney functioning, which would give me more time. I chose the latter, and wrote to you last time that the procedure was successful

The next critical decision came on Monday, July 2, in meeting with the wonderful medical team that has been caring for me, to talk about the cancer and what could be done at this point. Again, there were essentially two paths: 1) I could pursue a stronger and different chemo to see if that would take on the cancer, or 2) I could transition out of the hospital and into hospice care to manage my pain and comfort for the remainder of my time on Earth. The first choice carried no guarantees for success as the cancer has now spread throughout my body, but did have a guarantee of making me feel sicker and likely more tethered to the hospital. The second choice would allow me the highest quality of life possible during this time, keep me comfortable and manage my pain, and allow me to accomplish the things on my “bucket list.” So, I made this choice with the support of my medical team and friends, and I feel at peace with this new approach.  

I was able to leave the hospital on July 4 and get settled in my new location. To make the journey, I took my first ride in an ambulance (the doctors insisted), and I’m now staying with Nashville friends, Valeri and John Overmyer, who have opened up their home to provide a place for me. We have nurses and volunteers coming by to provide care, and I am so thankful for their help. I have a comfortable room, and look over a serene and beautiful swimming pool and gardens.  

I feel so much gratitude to Heavenly Father to have this second option – to have more time – in order to focus on writing the story of Starfish. So many of you have been urging me to write a book, and I plan to spend my remaining time in that effort. I’m busily working to get many stories of Starfish and the babies documented and in this I ask for your help. If you have any stories about Starfish, the babies, experiences with or memories of me, our efforts in China, or anything else you could contribute to this collection of stories, please email them to and please include your full name, address and phone number. I would be so grateful for anything you could share: stories, memories, pictures, etc., of all kinds, let’s have some fun with this!  

A second reason I’m so grateful for this extra time is to have the chance to say goodbye to those I love. Thank you for your calls, emails, and even visits some have been able to make. I may not be able to respond to every call or email, but I listen to and read your messages and they buoy my spirits – thank you! My new address is 911 Center Ridge Court, Brentwood TN 37027, USA, for mailing, or visits if you are in the area. Please call Valeri at 615-957-1573 to arrange a time to visit; she also can suggest hotels in the area if you are coming in from out of town.  

 I have been able to meet with the Starfish Board of Directors by conference call, and in person with our chair, Patrick McLauglin, to transition the work of the Starfish Foster Home. It is my hope and prayer that the excellent we have done the last seven years will continue, and he and the board have pledged their support and continued commitment.  

With this latest update I write, there are also decisions for you to make. You could choose to sit by and be sad, but I hope you’ll choose the path of joy and hope – and of action. I hope you’ll choose to share your memories and stories with me to help with the Starfish story. And I hope you’ll choose to honor and remember me by continuing to support Starfish and carry on the wonderful work of helping and healing the babies, and finding them forever families!  

It's been said that no man (or woman) is an island. I say that love is not an island, either. Each one of us affects each other in good ways or bad ways. Each of you has influenced me in so many good ways. There is a reason each of you have come into my life and you have blessed my life so much.

 I hope that I have touched your hearts and your lives as well. I hope in some way I have been able to feed your soul and have lifted and inspired you, and if I have, I pray that you will take that goodness and pay it forward. Together we can change the world one good deed at a time.  

To the babies of Starfish, I want you to know that I have given it my best effort, my all. My life has been to care for and love you. Wherever you go in your lives I wish you the very best. May you always be drawn to those in need and may you never forget that at a very critical time in your life there was someone there at the door to welcome you into the house. Be the change you want to see in the world.

It has been the greatest honor of my life to be associated with such fine people. I could not have done any of this without you, my friends, the nannies, and the good people of Xi'an, China. All my blessings have been a direct result of your support. I'm so grateful for your friendship and for your families and for sharing your homes with me.  

At this critical time in my life, I thank you for all of your support and concern for my health and well being, and for peace as I make this transition. Thank you for your emails and for your prayers. I look forward to hearing from you and reading your stories. I appreciate your support and I feel of your love and prayers. Please know of my love and gratitude for you all.

 Ever-abundant more life, love and laughter,


Jon Duncan said...

Dear Amanda,

I have so much to say, but to be brief here I'll simply say this: You have made a difference to this one. I love you. I hope to see you soon.

Jon Duncan
Zhongli, Taiwan

Annie said...

Dear sweet Amanda, I just wanted to thank you for all that you have done for the beautiful children of China. You have touched so many. I never personally "met" you but know of your work and stand in complete awe of all that you have done!! Thank you!

Christi and Abbey said...

Amazing Amanda! What an example you are for us all!

Brooke said...

What an amazing journey of faith your life is! The starfish story is one that I have always held close to my heart. It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the need in this world, but if you just take it one starfish at a time, you WILL make a difference in that life. Thank you for being such an inspiration. You have touched more starfish than you will ever know! xoxo Brooke

TheDideonGang said...

Being a mother to 4 Asian blessings from China - one with CLP and one from Xian - i am so ever touched by the choice and path that God gave you to serve our children and give them an opportunity.
May your book touch many more lives to see the need of the Fatherless and rise to the cause and serve in the same selfless fashion. Thank you and I pray for you in these coming days.
God Bless you Lavonne Dideon, Renton WA

Donna said...

Amanda, I had never heard of you until I read your blog this morning at 6:30am. I wish you the knowledge of knowing that in this life you have "made a difference to many"
I am writting from Prince Edward Island, the smallest province in Canada. It is located on the east coast.
I will think of you and add in my prayers as you travel your journey.
I have a friend whose daughter has two beautiful little girls they made two trips to China and bring home as their own. They bring much happiness to all the family.
God bless people such as yourself.

Nicole said...

I wish you peace. You have been on my mind.

Kim said...

I am the mom to 3 blessings from China.I have never met you, but know of your tireless work with the beautiful children of China. I will always remember your Facebook message to me when my daughter was stranded in Nashville. You were willing to help in any way you could! GOD is using you for HIS glory, Amanda. You are a HUGE inspiration to me and so many others. I am praying for you and asking GOD'S blessing on you and your book.Thank you for all that you have done for the children of China and their families.
In HIS love,
Kim Schrink

Pam said...

Amanda, Many thanks to you for sharing your medical knowledge with me as we have the same heart for the orphans. You are an example to us all to live life to the fullest and to grasp every opportunity. I love you!! Pam in Henan from Swallows Nest

Annie said...

Amanda, your generosity and kindness touch me when I met you. The day we visit Starfish and met you with are little girl was a very beautiful day. Thank you for taking good care of so many babies...and especially of Lou-Ann...are daugther. You made the difference in her life...and in our life. I send you all my love and prayers. Annie xox

The Gang's Momma! said...

While I've never been a part of the Starfish community, I do have a lovely engaging blessing from China and am waiting for another. I've followed your story and prayed for you and your ministry and will continue to do so. On behalf of all the sweet babies you have touched with your love and your passion and your purpose, I want to say thank you. None of them happened to be my baby but that matters little in the scope of eternity b/c ALL of them are HIS sweet babies. You've been a faithful steward of all the blessings and responsibilities HE's sent your way and the children of China will never be the same b/c of your touch in so many areas of their lives. Thank you. From this grateful momma's heart.

Donna said...

Dear Amanda,

As a NJ mom to 2 CL/CP girls from China, I want to say thank you. Although we've never met, I know the importance of the work that you do and the time and love involved in your caring relationships with the children whose lives you touch.

You have made a difference in the lives of so many and my prayers go out to you.

Five+Parmars said...

I only know of you through friends who adopted their sweet Josiah through your organization. Their story is interwoven into ours as I watched their journey "long distance" via Facebook. During that time, we lost a baby through miscarriage and after a long stretch of secondary infertility, discovered that God was calling us to make a difference to one via adoption as well! We are adopting in India, but I felt God's tug on my heart as I read their story of their journey, a journey that that you were involved in, and in a way inspired our journey. Thank you for obeying God's call on your life and sharing it with those of us who are making forever families with God's precious children.

a.d.d.hustler said...

Thank you Amanda. The power of your spiritual legacy cannot be expressed in words. Thank you for working tirelessly to bring goodness to the people of this world. You have surely brought more love to my life.

Craig Ruggles
Zhongli, Taiwan 2003

eloquentangel said...

Dear Amanda,

I have never met you, but I have been blessed to know of you and the wonderful work that you do. One thing that I am sure of is that you, too, will be recieved with arms wide open!