February 7, 1989 - April 4, 2008
Once again I sit here numb... the bitter word "cancer" rests on my lips. I hate to think about it. I hate to speak it. I hate to admit that sometimes it has the upper hand as it wreaks havoc not only on the body of the person it's invading, but also in the lives of everyone who loves that person.
I have so many questions... questions that no one can answer except to say that it's not fair. Cancer sucks. This truly has become my motto in life. It's become embedded in my soul. Some days I can get through the whole day without thinking about it, and others, like today, it consumes me.
Erica and her mom, Cindy
Let me tell you about our friend Erica. Erica is 19 and in January 2007 she was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. While she was fighting, she went on to graduate high school; and when she should have been planning her wedding to her amazing fiance Luke, she hung out in the hospital... getting chemo and radiation and fighting off this nasty beast called cancer.
But there's more. Erica is a true blessing to me. She is one of the strongest Christians I have EVER met. Actually, let me rephrase that. She is one of the strongest PEOPLE I have ever met. When Erica relapsed she posted on her caringbridge page that she only wanted positive people to visit her. She said that she planned on winning this battle and if you didn't believe that, then no offense, but stay away! :) She said often that her life is in the hands of Jesus and He is taking care of her, so she isn't going to worry! Her attitude toward life and cancer is just inspiring!
Erica and one of her nurses, Tiffany
If you were at Vandy this summer you would most likely find Erica sitting on the floor in the hallway coloring with one of the kids, or playing a game with them. She would organize scavenger hunts for the older ones and play dress up with Kennedy and Nevaeh or Buzz Lightyear with Charlie. At night you would find her cuddled up with Luke watching a movie or taking laps around the hallways trying to keep her strength up. And of course, she would stop by our room for some Groovy Girl time. Most importantly, when you saw Erica, she was always wearing a smile... always.
As it turns out, God has decided that He needs Erica with Him. Even after a bone marrow transplant with her amazing sister Becky as her donor, the cancer just kept coming back... and while our human minds will never understand... while we scream and cry at the unfairness of it all, I know that deep down inside Erica was saying "OK Lord, I'll go where you need me." And the rest of us here will miss her so greatly. And we'll hurt so badly. But we'll find comfort in the fact that she will never again know pain. She will never again cry tears of sadness. She is in Heaven once again playing Buzz Lightyear with Charlie.
Erica and her fiance, Luke
In the meantime, I'm here... brokenhearted once again by this terrible, horrible disease. In times like this, all I can do is pray. I am praying for her fiance Luke... and for her mom Cindy... and for her sisters... and the rest of her family and friends and I'm praying that the thousands of lives that Erica has touched will live their lives in her memory. I pray that we will never let her spirit, her fight, her love for the Lord fade away. She will live on in those of us who love her, until we get to see her again. Her life is truly one I am most thankful for.