July 9, 2012
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
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 StoriesofStarfish@gmail.com 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,