Two Amazing Journeys
The purpose of this website and bicycle tour is to raise money for cancer research. My wife, Shelia, died of Pancreatic Cancer on October 19, 2016. The link “Donate” above will take you to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Johns Hopkins Cancer Center to give opportunity to donate “on line”. Our journey together in the battle with cancer began about a year ago and ended eight months later. My literal solo journey, being a bicycle tour begins at MD Anderson in Houston and on to Johns Hopkins Cancer Center in Baltimore, Maryland via Jacksonville, Florida (as I’ll catalogue in this interactive, cancer-war site) now begins.
On February 12th, 2016, doctors escorted me to the room where Shelia awaited the test results. Seated next to her and after moments of awkward silence, one of the doctors cleared his throat before addressing Shelia as kind and gently as possible, “You probably are not prepared for this, but you have pancreatic cancer.” Shelia answered with shocking calmness, “But I am prepared.” Her emotions in no way reflected mine.
At that time I did not fully understand the significance of what she just said. I certainly could not say the same thing for myself. It was as though my world just came crashing down on me, destroying all the plans we had together for the years ahead. For Shelia, this began what she later began to call “MY AMAZING JOURNEY”. I could not call it that for me, although I caught glimpses of that throughout the eight month long process of watching her life ebb away one day at a time. Shelia served, trusted and walked with Jesus most of her life and knew that He would walk (carry) her through the remainder of her earthly journey. Her intimacy with Jesus grew closer as her time shortened. Throughout those painfully difficult days and months to come, God provided and revealed Himself to us in so many ways. “Passing it forward,” Shelia revealed her faith, courage and grace to others, touching countless lives.
Besides family, so many friends and acquaintances arrived to visit with outpourings of love and support, but would leave saying things like, “I came to offer words of hope and encouragement, yet left feeling hopeful and encouraged.” One Saturday not long before Shelia passed, 27 people from our CMA church life group (weekly Bible study), and my office came to complete springtime projects around our 10 acre country property. Friends and family brought hot meals, filled our freezer with endless backup meals and helped me with Shelia’s care-giving. I began to understand Shelia’s “MY AMAZING JOURNEY”.
The final two months were excruciating. I am so thankful for family that stayed with me to assist in giving full-time care and along with the vital help from the sensitive hospice nurses that began to come daily. But to me, most amazing of all was Shelia never shedding one tear throughout, and expressing much more concern about the comfort of everyone around her.
One day I noticed her just staring into space, so asked what she was thinking. “Oh, I’m just thinking of what a blessed life I’ve had, how I love you and my family. I am so blessed.” That brief, softly labored answer spoke so loud and clear, but I also heard what she did not say. She didn’t say she was thinking about “how awful this is,” or “how much I hurt,” or “Why did this have to happen to me?” No, I never heard a hint of those emotions expressed. She set such a high bar for the rest of us.
So on October 19th, 2016 Shelia had the best day of her life when she completed her earthly journey and saw Jesus face to face as I held her hand. This was the day she had prepared for all her life. I would be left behind for now, but not without learning the true meaning of “Loving your wife in sickness and in health.” We were blessed to have 43 years “in health” and only 1 year “in sickness.”
My figurative journey alone also began that day, but now I embark on a literal journey to help defeat everyone’s enemy, cancer. Please join me in our fight against cancer by donating to cancer research via this website, (in Shelia’s honor and in honor of your lost and or suffering loved ones).
I know my story is far from unique. Nearly everyone has been, or will be, affected by this hideous disease in some way at some time. It’s up to all of us to cut down on the odds of that happening.