Saturday, May 30, 2009


At the beginning of Maura's cancer journey, a young friend came back into our lives. She had mostly known my older girls through church and school, but life had taken them all in different directions and they lost touch. Amanda was only a few years older than Maura, married, very wise, and she had been dealing with cancer for a couple of years, so she spoke with authority. At one point she had been on death's door and subsequently--amazingly--had gone into remission. When she became Maura's friend and mentor, she was in remission for the fourth time.
Last year, she would bring black bean burritos each week and sit in the living room with us. Maura wouldn't say a word. Amanda never seemed uncomfortable with silence. Slowly, Maura began to open up to her; Amanda responded with advice or related a story about her own experience. She began to teach Maura some life skills that were especially valuable to someone in the cancer maze. From Amanda, Maura learned to speak her mind at the doctor's office, to stick up for herself when a health care worker neglected to treat her the way she wanted to be treated, not to be embarrassed about getting her way at the hospital , even if an employee (or friend or family member) was inconvenienced. She learned not to let cancer define her life. She learned to trust God, regardless of the outcome.
She gave Maura a box of Bible verses that had once helped her and a bag of all her caps and scarves from when, she. too, had no hair.
One day last year Amanda told Maura that she would take her cancer for her, if that were possible, because Amanda has a gold heart and she loved Maura that much.
A couple of months ago, Amanda's cancer returned, and she began chemo treatments for the fifth time. Even so, she never left Maura during the last couple of weeks, camping out on our floor while Maura was in hospice care. Maura had asked her to stay. I don't think we could have dragged Amanda away had we wanted to. But we didn't want to. Amanda was a constant presence at the house and at the hospital, showing up at Maura's bedside at 4:00 in the morning when I needed a nap, quietly finding her place in our home. A few days before Maura died, Amanda told Maura again that she would take her cancer if she could. This time Maura responded. "I wouldn't let you. You are going to get well and live and get pregnant and have a baby. And you are going to bring that baby over to our house so my mom can rock her." And I think they both cried. I did, at least, when I heard the story.
A couple of days after Maura's memorial service, Amanda got her latest CT-scan results after fewer than half the recommended chemo cycles. Clear. Cancer is gone.


Tracie Davis said...

That is such an amazing and uplifting story. I really hope you are doing well!

Nikki Belshe, MT-BC, NMT said...

Thank you for sharing this story, Erin, and thank you for continuing to blog here. I can't even imagine the hundreds, thousands of people inspired by Maura's strength and faith. I believe that many souls will come to Christ because of your efforts to share stories like this. Maura was so Christ-like, and I am truly blessed for knowing her.

Thank you.

Beth said...

wow. Praise God for Amanda. Praise God for her healing. I praise God for you and your family every day. I praise Him for His plan for all of this in your lives and our lives, subsequently. Always praying for ya'll as well. To always feel God's loving arms enfolding you. Love you guys.

Beth Buchanan

Anonymous said...

WOW!! That's sooooo wonderful - Praise GOD!! I met Amanda for the first time at your home and she's a very inspiring woman - she has incredible vision, strength and what a beautiful heart. I'm so happy to hear this wonderful news.

Lotsa LUV,
Terri, Aldenis & Ally Souza

Anonymous said...

i've got chills. please keep us updated on amanda! God is so mysterious and so amazing.

jucineia said...

Amanda is very special, and God knows it.She was there for Maura and your family until the end, God knows it.God is watching over her always.Thankyou God for healing Amanda, she is one wonderfull person!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story! I had heard about how wonderful Amanda was to Maura and your family! God Bless her! Praise God that she is well again!

I imagine that Maura and Jesus jumped for joy at the many souls that trusted Christ in her memorial service. I began to cry at the thought of her being comforted by Jesus while her head lay in his lap!

I love what Pastor Stohler said about how you cannot lose something if you know where it is! Well, we all know where she is and I cannot wait to see Maura again!

Blessings to you,
Elizabeth M. Ilseng

Anonymous said...

God is good, God is great, God will see us through.

SLY said...

This story is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

God knew exactly what he was doing when he created a miracle like Maura! A woman with such strength, a kind heart,the smile of an angel that could light up a room! He knew her life would be short lived on earth, but while she was here he also knew that her story about her fight with Toby would inspire so many! Even those who never knew her! I am so blessed that you chose to write this blog, what a strong woman you are as well, to have the strength to keep us all updated on maura's condition during such a difficult time! Maura stayed positive and strong even when she knew she was going to be with God! That is amazing to me, because most people get angry with him in tough times! Thankyou for your beautiful daughter, and her beautiful stiry I will forever carry it with me in my heart! And wow what a friend she has in amanda, thanks again! Elizabeth Malmberg

Elsa D. said...

Erin, thank you.
Stories like this fill us with love and hope

Barb Carson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meg Alexander-Maedgen said...


God gave you an amazing gift of being able to write the way you do. You tell stories in such a way that everyone that reads them feels like they were there and just involved as you were.

This story brought forth tears...lots of happy, joyful tears!

Eventually I Get It, Right?!? said...

Wow, that's incredibly moving. Thank you so much for sharing this story. God really does work in mysterious ways. Praise God, Amanda!

<3 Hannah Miscisin