Offering Hope and Encouragement in the Midst of Sorrow

My name is Jack and I have two boys, Cameron and Caleb, ages 6 and 12. My wife of 13 years and best friend went home to be with the Lord after a 4 1/2 year battle with Breast Cancer in May of 2005.

Candy and I met on a blind date in 1990 after being set up by a mutual friend. We hit it off like we had been best friends for years and it did not take us long to realize that God had set us up with someone special. She was the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher and I was a young Southern Baptist Preacher myself. She understood what it meant to live in a family that may have to pick up and leave to a new congregation as the Lord would have them to and yet she was still interested in me. A little over two years after we met, we were married.

My wife was 31 when she first felt the lump that led us to the doctor. Our oldest son was 7 and our youngest just 1 at that time. When her and I went for her mammogram, we were told then by the doctor that it was cancer. Candy immediately underwent all the surgery, chemo, and radiation recommended for her situation. We wanted to make sure we took the most aggressive approach we could to fighting this off. Although there was a little cancer found in two of her lymph nodes, the doctor felt it was caught in time.

A little over a year later, Candy started having symptoms. She was getting tired very easily and had bruises on her body she could not explain. After the standard scans and tests, we were told by her doctor that her liver was totally covered with the cancer and there were some spots on her lung as well.

This was a very though time for us. Both Candy and I went through the "why me?" stage as we anguished with God over this. With much help from God through His Spirit and through our church friends he gave us, we got on with the task at hand of fighting this terrible disease.

It is almost unheard of for someone with cancer covering their liver to live over 6 months no matter what treatments are made, but God gave us more time than that. We had about 3 and a half years together after it was found on her liver and lung. During that time, there were periods where she had gone over a year having chemo every week, but we still had many great memories as well.

In the back of my mind, I always knew that people do not live long with how bad her cancer was but I also knew my God could heal her despite this. We still talked about what we would like to do on our 25th anniversary and when we retired, but we always kept an eye on what could happen. With this in mind, I did my best to do all I could for Candy. She always wanted a room decorated in Coke memorabilia, so I made sure that happened. She wanted to take a Disney Cruise, and we did that as well. She wanted to go to the beach during the summer, so we did. These were just a few things and I praise God for the great memories we had with it all.

Through her illness, Candy had cancer on her liver that at times the doctors thought may had been gone, she had cancer on her lung and chest wall, and on her ovaries as well but then it really hit home.

In September of 2004, I received a call at work. It was my wife. She had just received a call from her doctor. In one of her normal scans, the cancer was found all over her brain. She had to immediately start steroids and radiation to the brain. She had been through so much by then and the thought of losing her hair again and going through all that really tore at her. It took much encouragement from me, her radiologist, and her friends to fight on but she did. It appeared the radiation was working well.

In late December of 2004, her liver count was going back up and she had to start chemo again, but by April of 2005 it was found to be spreading all over her brain again as well. Furthermore it was in her spinal fluid and her spine. There was nothing else the doctors had to offer.

The most terrible day of my life by far was the day I had to tell Candy, who was in the hospital for her symptoms, what the doctor told me the day before. She took it well though and her only words were "I wanted to see my boys grow up". She knew Jesus as her Savior and was ready to go home.

Later that day after having her placed on hospice, we went home. We broke the news to the boys as we always did being very loving but honest. It was so awful as my oldest son, then 11, started crying and asking if there was not anything else that could be done. He then started screaming "it's not fair" over and over again and charged out of the room after slamming a pack of gum into our bedroom wall. Our youngest son who was then 5 just started crying and then looked at us to see if it was some kind of cruel joke. He realized it wasn't and ran to his room and went into a corner. We had our parents and Candy's sister there to help pick up the pieces, but the boys would go to no one. I wish I could wipe that day from my memory forever.

The second thing Candy told me in the hospital after I broke the news to her was that she wanted to go to the beach. A very loving and caring couple that we did not even know except through their daughter wanted us to use their ocean front condo near Myrtle Beach SC. We went on this trip with Candy's parents and took the boys out of school to go as well. I cherish those memories of the trip as Candy and I loved a trip to the beach more than any other vacation, but I always had the thought that it was the last beach vacation I would ever take with her on this earth.

Candy passed away on May 26, 2005 just three days after our youngest son, Caleb's, birthday. We had the party a few weeks before because Candy's mind was slipping quickly and we wanted her to be part of the party. I am so grateful we decided to do so, because Candy was barely recognizing people by Caleb's birthday.

I will never forget the day Candy died. It was obvious the night before that she was going into the active stage of dying. My boys went home with my Mom and Dad and Candy's best friend and her Mom and Dad were at our house all night with her. I made sure the boy's understood that I did not believe Mommy would make it through the night and had them go into our bedroom and kiss her and say whatever they would like to her.

Through the night, I just rubbed my fingers through her hair that was starting to come back. She had always loved me doing that more than anything. I was doing that very thing when her breathing changed and she slowly took the hand of God.

The boys and I have tried to pick up the pieces as well as we could since then. Candy and my burial plot is in a cemetery about 2 miles from our house. The boys and I go there often. Both boys speak often about her and we all tell about things that remind us of something we did with her at one time or another.

I do not know what I would do without my boys. I praise God for giving them to us because they help me keep focused. There is so much of each boy that God uses to remind me that there is still a part of Candy here with me while she awaits to see me again in heaven.

Cameron has the heart of gold and is always thinking about others feelings. I remember that when Candy found out she had cancer, she was afraid it would make her friends mad and she did not want to hurt their feelings.

Caleb is the determined one that turns out to be a center of attention wherever he goes and has never met a stranger. Candy never seemed to worry about forgetting where her car was parked because she would make 3 new friends on the way to the car anyhow.

God is with the boys and me. I am not saying it is not tough. Cameron is struggling this year in school after a great year last year and I know part of it has to be dealing with his emotions of what is going on . Caleb has his moments where he really misses his mother, but we try to talk about them instead of push them aside.

I miss Candy every day. When I thought about "until death do us part" I always assumed Candy would be an old lady by my bedside with our grandchildren when I passed away, not leaving me at the age of 36. I know I will understand this all some day, but the way I look at it when I get to heaven I will be so joyous to be in the presence of Jesus and Candy that I probably won't even care about the why.