Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The last weeks.
 I believe we spent at least one night in every room of the cancer unit at Trident Hospital since September.  The good days became less and less frequent as Autumn set in,  as if her body was synchronized to the seasons.  During December she would ask for her phone on several occasions but lacked the strength or presence of mind to write like she wanted to.  I believe she was waiting for some good news to kick off another round writing.  The first round of chemo back in the Spring had been like a sledge hammer on her tumors. However, successive attempts to control the tumors had proven lacking.  We traveled to Charlotte to consult with  a specialist about immunotherapy. It is a promising new field in cancer fighting drugs that takes the brakes off the body's own immune system. There was one recently approved drug--of which she took one dose--and several phase 1 and 2 drugs she could try.  But we knew time was the enemy.  We read of new and exciting new cancer therapies almost every week, but the trick is to stay alive long enough to try them.  Whit's cancer was so aggressive it would never allow her that precious time.  She has posted on facebook that the only thing she wanted for Christmas was time.  But the painful irony would be that on Christmas eve her hourglass would shatter...all the sand running out at once.  I was working nightshift and my wife called at 5 am. Whitney was in such severe pain they could not get her into the Patrick's truck.  They called EMS as I immediately left work for home.  Thirty minutes later I would be jumping into the back of the ambulance as Patrick followed us on the 20 minute ride to Georgetown.  The ride was excruciating for her. When we arrived they took her back and performed an x-ray. They suspected a perforation of some sort in her abdomen, but the x-ray did not support that theory. However, a later CT scan revealed that something was, in fact, leaking into her abdominal area.  So, it was another hour long ambulance ride to Trident for surgery.  We were blessed to have a  very good surgeon --even for the night before Christmas.  Whitney's oncologist had requested him.  He explained that Whit  had a fist sized tumor literally explode on her duodenum. It is a short segment of bowel between the stomach and the small intestine.  The tumor was actually dead and was empty.  This was probably due to it outgrowing it's blood supply.  He observed smaller tumors on her liver but none appeared to be significant....for lack of a better word.  The next ten days would be very challenging as she still had to finish radiation treatment for her 4 brain tumors.  Standing and walking was extremely painful.  I thought I had witnessed the maximum pain a human could endure without losing consciousness.  I had not.  Whitney later said that  the pain was so bad  she was sure her heart would stop.  Ever increasingly,  our goal, which was to see her cured, was re-negotiated  backwards to mere pain management. Cancer does not negotiate. It sets the terms--physically, that is.  On a spiritual level, Whitney set the rules. She never lost control of her situation.  I'm not making her out to be some kind of "miss-siah", but her faith never failed.  It was like her faith was some sort of basic element out of the periodic table that could not be reduced.  No one who knew her could not be affected by that faith.
After about 10 days it became apparent that the healing process was not taking shape as we had hoped. We thought that, with the largest tumor out of the way, the smaller tumors would give us time to get rolling on the immunotherapy.  But, inside the liver, the tumors were advancing at an alarming rate.  We would take her home for what would be her final week of life.  Patrick, her husband, was an amazing caregiver.  Whitney actually became terrified of the pain coming back at the level it had the previous weekend.  Patrick assured her that that would not happen.  He rode home with her in the ambulance and never left her side.  Patrick was constantly talking with nurses and doctors to make sure we administered the proper amount of pain medicine.  It was a delicate and dangerous balance between controlling her pain and contributing to her death.  But, once again, cancer had to settle for Whitney's fragile body. It could not take her soul.  A group of prayer warriors would help make sure of that the day after she got home....

Getting late. I'll continue soon. Thanks, Stacy


  1. Stacey that was truly beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time. She told me how she was excited to go on to the new chapter with the immunotherapy. I'm so sorry she was not able to try it. I prayed and prayed for Whitney, I've actually never prayed so hard in my life. I'm truly blessed to have been able to talk with her through messenger and I will forever keep our messages. My heart and prayers are with you and your family always.

  2. Thanks,Jaime. Those prayers weren't in vain.

  3. Sorry I keep forgetting to sign my name instead of hers.

  4. Dear Stacy and family,
    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story of your daughter. It is so very hard to try to make sense of something that just doesn't make sense. Whitney was a new mother with a 3 month old baby!!! She had a 5 year daughter, a happy marriage and was in the prime of her life. I didn't know Whitney personally and I am having difficulty accepting her death. It brings me to tears just thinking about it. So I cannot even imagine the pain you are going through...I am sorry!!!
    Only God knows his reasons and we have to accept that He knows what is best. Whitney's "book" was a short one but it was not in vain. The joy of her faith and her strong stand in her beliefs touched many and she will not be forgotten. Her beautiful brilliant smile always showed through. Along with her thumbs up attitude. I love that she told you, "good to go!" She knew she didn't want to go, leave family, but she trusted her Savior. That trust held her on angels wings as she flew to meet her Savior. She is asleep now resting pain free and is waiting till she can be reunited with you all again. Stay strong!!!!
    She is in good hands. She would want you to stay strong for the children.
    Your family is continued to be on my prayer list....and someday it will all make sense. Trust.
    God Bless,

  5. Thanks Addie. I'm sure it makes perfect sense to Whitney now.

  6. I understand where Whitney got her strength from, what a special family. I first found an article on Good Morning America's home page, that told of a young mothers faith in dealing with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. My own daughter had just been told she has stage 4 breast cancer. I was filled with fear and couldn't come to terms with my child being so ill. I read her first blog post and was filled with a sense of hope, suddenly I felt God's peace enter my heart. Each post gave me hope. My own daughter does not have a personal relationship with our savior but through Whitney I was able to believe all things are possible with God. My heart breaks for your family and her beautiful children but I know God knows the many people she touched with her short life. I will always remember her great faith and huge smile. I will carry her spirit with me. Know how much she helped one broken hearted mother deal with her fear and grow closer to our Lord. God Bless

  7. That means so much, Pat. We will keep you and your daughter in our prayers. We are gonna believe for healing and salvation.