Why Amanda is Dying

(With Amanda’s permission, this blog post is written and posted by her husband Charles.)

Until recently, Amanda approached her cancer with fight. And, if the fight was a video game, Amanda was in full attack mode against a foe. If the fight was a soccer match, Amanda’s team played positively, with three attackers up top, midfielders constantly pressuring the ball, and defenders holding a high line with discipline. Our hope and prayers during her fight focused on recovery and cure. Her body endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy treatments and scars and wounds from four surgeries. But despite the fight, her current prognosis leaves her with a few weeks left to live. She cannot eat and digest food. Her wounds seep fluid constantly. Her liver is failing. She is in constant pain. She is dying.

The truth is patients with cancer do die. Even with prayer and the best treatments available, cancer patients die. At the same time, there also are cancer patients who go on to live cancer-free lives. We all know family members and friends, those we’ve prayed for, who have lived long after receiving a cancer diagnosis. For many, life or death after that diagnosis depends on the type of cancer, if it’s contained or metastasized to other organs, the treatments pursued, etc.

For the last 21 months, I did not think Amanda would die from cancer. We faithfully prayed she’d live. She had an intercessory prayer service to heal her body. Up until a week or so ago, we also had other treatment options to extend her life when current therapies or surgery failed. When doctors told me she was dying, I felt disbelief along with the feelings of great sorrow and sadness even though I’ve always known that cancer does take the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.

I’ve now accepted Amanda’s prognosis. It makes cruel sense to me given the colon cancer diagnosis and what she’s been through. Amanda’s colon cancer and tumor type, one that’s rare and dangerous, were first discovered in April 2015. At the time she had suffered from severe abdominal pain, which doctors thought was caused by an ovarian cyst, and had exploratory surgery to address what was an adhesion between her colon and abdominal wall. Following that procedure, she had a colonoscopy that the gastroenterologist could not complete because a massive tumor blocked a portion of her transverse colon. The cancer had metastasized and other procedures followed, including HIPEC surgery in January 2016 to remove tumors in her peritoneal tissue and other organs. This surgery was pursued with curative intent but we knew the outcomes for patients opting for the surgery were mixed. A clinical study showed the median survival rate following HIPEC was nearly two years. For Amanda, she enjoyed six months of having no evidence of disease (N.E.D.) before learning her cancer was back.

There now are several tumors in her abdomen, including one in particular that appears to be killing her. You can touch her belly and feel a hard mass beneath the skin. This tumor, and maybe others, has shutdown her bowels and sends pain shooting from her abdomen to her back constantly. Her liver is not functioning, so any fluid she drinks gets absorbed in her tissue and has caused extreme edema in her legs. Any nutrition she consumes, including via IV, is not being processed by her body but now feeds and grows the cancer. Before Amanda entered hospice, we pressed her doctors on other treatments and surgeries. Even hours after her most recent surgery, Amanda was in the ICU asking the lead surgeon if an innovative procedure that shoots vaporized chemo in the patient’s abdomen could be beneficial. The surgeon’s response: I’m sorry, it would not help.

I could further list the different chemotherapy drugs and the number of chemo rounds Amanda has received. And, I could recount the days in the hospital and invaluable nursing care. Several friends and family also have provided solicited and unsolicited advice in various forms; we’ve politely ignored some but not all when we thought alternatives would improve her outcome. Every medical decision and every prayer has been made with hopes of a cure. But still Amanda is dying.

Colon cancer is the simple clinical response to why Amanda is dying. There is another answer. It’s an answer I cannot comprehend and my inability to understand is excruciating.

But as I think and recall Amanda’s life before her colon cancer diagnosis, my thought is that she might be dying so she will once again be free of cancer. And, as I think about my wife finally being cancer free, without all the nausea and pain on a day not too far away, I know we will soon rejoice and will be glad.

9 thoughts on “Why Amanda is Dying

  1. My heart breaks for all of you especially Amanda. I’m so sorry she had to endure all this pain and suffering. I pray for peace free of pain for her. All of you are in my thoughts and prayers. I love you all. 💕 You and Amanda have shown such grace and courage while fighting this battle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So poignantly true. It’s excruciating to try to understand, and so painful to let go. But we will always keep Amanda in our hearts and see her again. Much love to you all. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this thoughtful entry, Charles. In the end it’s a wonderful way of looking at this otherwise tragic situation. I truly felt a little sweep of relief as I read your words: Amanda will be free of cancer. It is indeed a good thing. I look forward to visiting with her in a couple of days. She’s a gem and will be remembered as such—incredibly strong with a beautiful light within.

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  4. Charles, Amanda could not have had a better partner to endure this with. I think that a lot of her strength and courage come from you and Eleanor. It is with great remorse and regret that I lament the imminent loss of a dear friend. I hope to see you guys, wherever you are, next week.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Charles, how excruciating for us to read. But also how rewarding. I think we focus so much on Amanda (and Eleanor) that sometimes we forget about you. Our messages and thoughts are for all, but my thoughts tonight are for you only. I share your inability to understand, beyond the clinical reason for Amanda’s death. It is simply, completely, totally unfair. And incomprehensible. Yes, rejoice in Amanda’s release from this horror. Rejoice, too, in your release. But don’t be afraid to feel the depths of sadness, even anger. Amanda always knew that I was one of her friends who couldn’t accept “a greater plan.” I don’t think there is a greater plan. I think the death of
    Amanda is the cruelest of fates, the resullt, only, of a deadly disease we humans must overcome somehow. But haven’t yet. That said, I wholly accept the faiths and beliefs of all. But there is room for you, Charles, to feel pain and fury. You and Amanda have been great partners, and now you have your daughter, Eleanor, to keep safe and happy. But she will be angry too, in a child’s way. Some trials are just beginning for you. Please ask for help, here on Earth, and you will get it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Charles. This is for you. What a moving post; thank you for speaking on Amanda’s blog. I think we all have sometimes been so moved to encourage Amanda that we have forgotten about you, or at least have forgotten to speak to you. The answer you cannot comprehend is indeed not an answer to your greatest question. I’m one of Amanda’s friends who cannot accept a greater plan, cannot believe there is any reason for this cruel fate. I cannot believe anything other than that life is unfair and cancer is a horrible disease we have yet to conquer. A disease that other lucky people have defeated for a time, but that some less lucky must yield to. I don’t mean that I don’t accept Amanda’s indestructible faith or the beliefs of any of Amanda’s great circle of friends. Only that I completely believe that there is great cause for you to feel the depths of pain and anger. You and Amanda seem to have been wonderful partners, and your partnership produced a wonderful child, who will also feel pain and anger that cannot find much comfort. And you are the one who must guide her alone. It is not fair. It just is not. Please give over to your feelings. They are real, and comfort seems impossible. You will be able to have help here on Earth, if you just seek it. Which you must. Meanwhile rejoice that both you and Amanda can leave this physical pain behind. Feel the great relief of that for now. All love. Lynn.

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  7. Oh Charles, thank you for writing and sharing this with us. How we also long for the day when Amanda is pain free and cancer free again and yet how it terrifies us to think what that means for you and darling E. If only everything could be perfect, now. But we stand with you in grief and trust, trusting someday in eternity we will understand more. Please know that we are praying all through the day(s) for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is agonizingly beautiful. Thank you for sharing the facts & your heart so clearly. The pain of loss mingled with the hope of glory. Much love to all of you coupled with prayers for strength as you walk these last steps together.


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