Flori won the hearts of all who knew her. In her memory, we search for answers to preventable deaths from cervical cancer.
What a bittersweet day! Flori left Detroit airport this morning at 6AM and is in Guatemala with her husband now! The last few days, she has been smiling, laughing and even eating! To think that her ordeal might actually be over forever is almost incomprehensible.
Mom and I feel like we have lost a daughter/sister though we know we'll see her in the future.There were some really gut-wrenching sobs all around when we said good-bye. Hard to believe that someone can become such a part of your life in just 72 days.
I will keep you all posted about Flori's future but for now, I thank you all from my heart for all that so many of you have done to be God's hands here on earth. You all know that there were days that we wondered if this had been the right thing, but at this moment, I know it counts as one of the greatest miracles I've ever witnessed. Flori's future, as with any of ours, is up to a much Higher Power but without all of your help, she would not be with her children now. We have all given her hope and maybe in doing that, we've given ourselves hope. This was an adventure I'll never forget.
Hard to imagine that we are nearing the end of Flori's stay here. While she may be returning, I know that this is only the beginning of the next adventure. Flori and I have promised each other to become sisters in this fight against cervical cancer in Guatemala. She is a powerful speaker as she so clearly speaks from her heart. This has been an especially tough week for her. She has lost 27#, she is weak, the vomiting continues on and off and now she struggles with bloody diarrhea. But we both now that these are just the results of the powerful drugs that may ultimately heal her.
She is so anxious to return to her children but I know she must wonder how she is going to survive back in Guatemala where she will have to work day in and out just to get enough food for her family to eat.
Our fundraiser for this project is this Friday at Olander Park at 7PM. Please email me if you'd like to join us. This really, truly is a cause worth fighting about!
Sorry for the delay in keeping up this blog. So much has happened since the last entry. When I think of the days that Flori was in intensive care, it seems like years ago....
At this moment at least, we have so much to be grateful for. Flori is eating, walking, smiling and once again laughing at my pitiful Spanish! When she had her radiation treatment last Monday, the doctor said that he can no longer see the tumor! I remember the day that I sat holding her hand when she was unconscious wondering if she would ever even make it back to Guatemala. And now, it seems there is a reasonable chance of a cure!
Last night, I booked her ticket back to Guatemala on Sept 28. To think that 59 days ago, she arrived here. We barely knew each other - we were all a little terrified. It was a downhill battle after that until this week. And now, she will be returning to Guatemala with at least a hope for a life with her children. I cannot express my gratitude to all of you who have made this happen. Most of all, I cannot give enough thanks to my mom who day in and day out, took care of Flori like she was her own. She had to be her mom and her nurse throughout the most difficult days. I see my mom as being the example of everything that Jesus described in the Good Samaritan. And we all see Flori as an angel sent from the heavens.
Yesterday, we were talking about her return trip. Dr. Coral and my mom had bought some clothes for Flori's children and her new niece. Flori looked at me with a wink and said that she wants my mom to be the one to give it to them! She always talks about how her mom wants to know my mom. How much more like family can you be?
I hope that any of you reading this will join us for our celebration for Flori on Sept 24 at Olander Park. It will be a time of great joy and thanks. Please email me at email@example.com if you'd like to join us.
Flori is staying with Dr. Coral Matus and her family this weekend. They are such a beautiful example of all that God asks us to do with our lives. Like so many other people I've come to know with this organization, I feel God's presence in them. I was reading Galatians this morning and there's a beautiful verse in chapter 5, verse 13-14. "You, my brothers were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single comman:'Love your neighbor as yourself.' If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."
Throughout these weeks with Flori, so many people have stepped up and shown me God's presence. I keep seeing miracles all around me!
Flori had her small surgical procedure on the 3rd. The doctors told us that they are "amazed" at the great response of the tumor to the treatments! Dr. Phibbs told Coral that he is very optimistic for a complete cure!!
I could cry thinking of this. Just last week, I was sitting next to her bed in the ICU stroking her face and wondering if she was ever even going to make it back to Guatemala alive - now I'm seeing a real possibility of being her "sister" forever! She has been so much better this week - her sense of humor has once again surfaced! She announced to me the other day that my mom is now her 2nd mom which makes me her sister! So I told her that then means that my other sister, Clare, is also her sister though they've never met! And she told me that her sisters and brother are my siblings now too!
This seems like such an easy way to understand what it means to be a "family" in Christ. Sometimes that term seems so "corny" and yet, this really is what it means, isn't it? You just struggle through life together - lean on each other in the tough times, encourage each other, love when you feel like running away and take chances for each other. And then, there you are - a new family!
The thought that we'd all really know and love each other in 10 years gives me such joy. Thank you ALL for so many things you have done to make any of this possible. Thank you, Tim Phleghaar for fixing the ultrasound machine so we had in Guatemala (which is what brought Flori there in the first place!). Thank you John DeKeyser, for sending it there in the first place. Thank you Chetti Smith for making this cervical cancer program possible. Thank you Anne Conklin for making this diagnosis! Thanks to all of our supporters, to all the people who have been touched by this, to the people who took time to care for Flori. SPECIAL thanks to Ismael and Orphe who have watched over her family in Guatemala and who helped get her here. Thanks to Dr. Conway for working with the U.S. embassy to get her visa. Thanks to Marcy Kaptur's office and Dan Foote for hearing my plea for help and working with the embassy. Thanks to my children for giving up a lot of things that we had planned so this could happen. I know you must sometimes wonder! Thanks to my office staff for all the extra work! Thanks to the pastors who have loved and prayed with Flori. Thanks to each person who has offered so many encouraging words and financial support. THANKS to the thousands of people who have prayed - your prayers have been heard. Thanks to the medical staff at Flower Hospital and to Dr. Phibbs for your wisdom and for generously and lovingly caring for Flori. Thanks to Kevin Webb, president of Toledo Hospital, who gave me the initial consent to bring Flori here for treatment.
Thanks to Flori's family in Guatemala for trusting us and for caring for each other while she is gone. Thanks to my mom for not only caring for Flori so lovingly, but for making her now feel that she is truly her daughter. I know I'm forgetting so many but that's for another blog day!
Please don't hesitate to write on this blog if you would like to contribute anything. Your words are so encouraging!
Flori came home from the hospital on Sun, Aug 29. She has had no further seizures, is actually eating a little more and has a little more strength. She restarted her radiation on Monday and had chemo again yesterday. Turned out that she had a serious infection in her GI tract so we have her on antibiotics now. Tomorrow, she'll be having a minor surgery to put in a small "stent" inside her uterus that will be used for internal radiation that will start next week. We're hoping that all the treatments will be over within 3-4 weeks.
We talk to her family often and they miss her greatly. It continues to be a long road for her - please keep her in your prayers. We try to smile and anticipate a day long in the future when we will look back and think it was all worth it.