Amy's Story - Chapter 2 "Share My Heart"

Andy wanted a big family...five children and a wife that stayed home and raised them.  I wanted to be a stay at home mom, but I had already had my twins, and that was it for me.  While I enjoyed the fantasy of being an "apron wearing, cookie baking Mrs. Cleaver kind of mother and wife with a dog, 2.5 children and a white picket fence", I knew I couldn't conceive again.   

I was only 21 when I finished chemotherapy so I understood, my twins were it for me.  I had accepted that the chemo had killed my eggs, it was an exchange I was willing to make.  I hadn't allowed myself to dream of having more children, I didn't need more and was grateful for the two I had.  I also understood it could be a challenge to meet a man that would feel the same way I did.

Andy and I talked about marriage and I loved him, but, I loved him enough to let him go, knowing his dream couldn't be my reality.  He suggested we 'try' to get pregnant, and I agreed to humor him.  

Four weeks later the talk of pregnancy had ensued in my place of employment, as a co-worker was surprised by her own expectancy.  On a whim, before we went to lunch, I ran into the nearby grocery store pharmacy and purchased a pregnancy test.  I decided to take the test before I ate, and I didn't have to wait long to see it was negative.  For some strange reason, I didn't leave that little stick in the garbage pail of the ladies room, I instead put it in my purse.  I discovered it when I returned to work and decided to look, just one more time - maybe the results had changed.  Indeed they had, that negative turned into a positive.  As hard as that was to believe, I went back to the pharmacy and purchased several more tests....all showing positive results.  I was, by some miracle pregnant.  Now what?  Four weeks later, we were married.

We were all in shock and my dad was concerned, he was convinced pregnancy was too hard on my body. My mom insisted we go see my oncologist, just to make sure.  He smiled, his blissful smile, and said, "Once again, Amy surprises us all" and assured us there was no need for concern.   Erica and Alexis were going to be big sisters and that was all they thought about.  

Eighteen weeks was an important marker for me, as I had gone into labor with Erica and Alexis at 18 weeks.  My doctor was certain I was not pregnant with twins and because of that, there were no restrictions placed on me.  

My sister Renee and I commuted to work together and I needed a maternity tights, so we stopped at Wal-Mart.  She pulled up to the door, I stepped out and I felt this sensation, like perhaps I had a leak.  I leaned down to make a comment to Renee and her face was white with fear.  I looked down to my foot as I felt a warm liquid filling around my toes.  That is when I realized blood was pouring down both of my legs.  I stood and began to cry and Renee shouted "Get in! Get in! We have to get to the hospital!"

Renee raced us to the emergency room with a frantic calmness.  I was hemorrhaging.   I've never seen so much blood.  I felt no pain, just blood.  When we arrived at the ER, they rushed me to a room quickly.  I was in shock and cannot recall how the bleeding stopped, or how long we were there. Then, the nurse came to take me to ultrasound.  They knew I had lost my baby, what they needed to know now, was to see if a dilation and curettage (D&C) was necessary. She helped me stand, and when I did, "something" fell out of me and onto the floor.  A hush came over the room, the nurse looked at me and asked if I was ok, or if I needed time to deal with what just happened before the ultrasound.  I didn't want to deal with anything.  I wanted to get whatever this was over with and go home.  I wanted to go home and be with my babies.

The ultrasound room was very dimly lit.  I laid on the table and the tech began, first with the cold jelly, then rolling the wand over, up, down and all around my belly.  I've had ultrasounds before, this one was different.  They weren't sharing the screen with me.  There was no heartbeat to hear.  She left the room and returned again with the nurse and doctor.  And repeat.  I laid on that bed while one nurse, then another, this Dr. and that. One tech then two hovered around this little screen and exchanged conversations under their breath.   Finally, they finished the testing and took me back to the room.  I waited what seemed to be another lifetime before they came back. The doctor said, "Amy, we are going to release you with some restrictions.  By some miracle, what we found with your ultrasound that you are still carrying one of the two babies - it's a viable healthy pregnancy!"  We lost Drew's twin that day.   

I gave birth to Drew and he was 7 pounds and six ounces and perfect! He is not half of anything, he is the whole of the two.  He is the whole of my heart.  He is a miracle to me and for my life.  I hadn't allowed myself to dream of a third child.  I couldn't have imagined a child as incredible as Drew. He is not, was not, separated from his twin, they both live on in him. They shared an egg and my womb and they continue to share my heart.  

This boy, my Drew, my miracle, he is a gift and constant reminder of God's Grace.

Amy's Story "3 Months to Live"

"I was a senior in high school, and getting pregnant was not something I had planned. But, when it happened I knew with every fiber of my being, I was pregnant for a reason I didn't know at the time, but felt sure one day I would.  That day came for me some short 23 months later.  The temperatures were perfect that day in April, 1992, warm enough to wear my new blue and white gingham dress.  

I drove my daughters to Mount Vernon, singing on the way. For some reason, I decided to place my hand on my throat to feel my voice box vibrate as I sang and that is when I felt it. There was something similar to a golf ball perched right above my collar bone. It was like it just appeared overnight, I thought.  And then I thought, it must be a swollen sweat gland because I have been waking up in a pool of water every night.  Not a normal kind of sweat, but a change the sheets, kind of flood sweat.

Certain it would disappear the same way it appeared, I agreed to a compromise with my mom.  If it is still there in a week, I will find a doctor and have it looked at.  It was in fact still there.  So I made an appointment to have this looked at. The doctor asked a few simple questions: "Have you been tired lately?" Well, I have twin babies and I'm going to college full time so I lack a little energy I suppose.  "Have you been sick? Running a fever?" No. "Have you lost weight in the past year?"  Yes, I have twin babies and the baby weight has fallen off nicely  And then this one: "Have you noticed you are sweating at night? Not a normal sweat, but the kind that feels like you are in a pool of water?" Yes, bingo! I knew it I thought, it's a sweat gland!  His response wasn't the same.  He said, "I think you have Hodgkin's Disease and unfortunately night sweats are only in the final stages. I want to get you in with a surgeon right away and have this removed for testing."

Amy's Story 3 Months to Live
Amy's Story Three Months to Live

I was scheduled for surgery two days later.  My doctor sat with my parents after he looked at the more cantaloupe-sized tumor. He was able to take a little piece of it but, my chest was also full of tumors. The doctor didn't see much hope in survival, with maybe 3 more months to live. His suggestion was to make some memories and appreciate what time I had left.

The next few weeks were full of more tests and the search  for an oncologist that could see some life still in my situation. We found him, Dr. Charles Morgan.  He gently explained to me I would almost die each week from the massive amounts of chemo.  My entire body was full of cancer.  He explained my attitude and desire to live was really what would determine if I did or not. He understood the mind body connection and would show me my scans every week before chemo.  He would always say something like, "So, have you had a hard week?  Feeling a little sorry for yourself, where is hope for you?" Or, "Looks like it was a good week. Your progress continues to amaze me." And then he would show me my scans.  Inevitably on bad weeks the tumors would grow or at best stay the same.  On those good weeks, the tumors shrank.  It was empowering to see.  It was also a lot of responsibility.

I really was determining for myself if I would live or die, and on a hot day in July I would find out exactly the reason for that unplanned pregnancy when I was 18. Through prayer and journaling I had come to accept that I wasn't suppose to live.  My fate, my life plan was to let this cancer take me.  I felt like it all made sense, so much so that I took this new path to Dr. Morgan. He listened while I explained to him why I thought quitting was the right thing for me to do, then made me a deal. He told me to spend four weeks away, focused only on me and survival. If after that I still wanted to quit, then he would go along with my plan and tell my family the treatments aren't working. I felt a heavy load of frustration and confusion as I had worked this plan out for some time and had gotten comfortable with it.

Amy's Story 3 Months to Live

So as my girls sat shoulder to shoulder watching Winnie The Pooh, I prayed. I didn't typically pray in this manner but I was irritated. I just said 'Look God give me a sign. A really BIG sign.  Stop wasting my time with soft voices.  Give me direction.  I'm kinda out here alone trying to decide what to do and I need you to tell me once and for all, am I supposed to keep fighting this fight or is it time to just give in? TELL ME WHAT TO DO AND BE CLEAR!' At that moment, without so much as a sound, simultaneously my twins turned to me and looked straight into my soul.  They didn't hesitate, they didn't speak, they just both stared me down.   I heard the message, it was perfectly silent and extremely loud.  I knew why I got pregnant. It all came together for me. I knew they were sent here to save my life. I knew I couldn't leave them without fighting all the way. So I did it. I did exactly what he asked me to do.


What I would you say to someone going through something similar: FIND YOUR HOPE and hang onto it, whatever IT is - whatever makes you happy and feeds your spirit. Don’t focus on whatever struggle you have but what is going to get to you to the other side. You have to feed your spirit every day. It is not easy but it gets easier every day.

One of my greatest gifts was that experience, that worst best year of my life.  I don't consider the survival a gift because I have come to understand it was given to me, I chose to embrace it.  Learning to live and to truly accept and love myself, was an opportunity born out of a terminal diagnosis.  The cancer itself, to me, was a gift.  It forced me, if you will, to look at myself, not at the color of my eyes, the hair on my head, the body I've never been satisfied with, but to look at my soul.  Over the next few weeks, I read the book You Can Heal Your Life and I learned to love myself.  I learned that I have value and purpose. I embraced things in ways I hadn't before.  I began to live.  To feel what it feels like to actually be alive.  I danced.  I did chemo every Thursday and danced every Thursday night. The lesson that has stuck with me the most is that your attitude and desire to live will determine whether you live or die.

I gave my twins birth, and they gave me life.

Amy's Story "Where Is She Now"

Cancer survivor

Amy shared her tremendous story earlier this year. She says, "They gave me three months to live and that was 23 years ago." This simple sentence is profound and powerful and carries a message filled with hope. It struck a nerve with people resulting in over 3,000 likes, comments, clicks and shares, and reached almost 20,000 people on social media. "December 15, 2015, marks 23 years to the exact date of my last chemo treatment! I find myself breaking new ground every December! 7 Billion Ones, I cannot say thank you enough! Sharing my story has truly been an amazing gift to me. I have always wanted to share my story but I really didn't understand fully the impact it could have. I hear from people almost every day, some I know and some I do not, about how moved they were by the story. I want to share more through your project. I want to be involved beyond my own story. I am overwhelmed with gratitude! I want to do a next chapter and a next. It's interesting the idea of feeling like your life hasn't amounted to much matched with the challenge of so much to say. I will begin to write!" This is just one more example of why we do this thing called 7 Billion Ones! 

If you have not read Amy's full story read her story above.