Hello dear family and friends!  Our family has been lost in our own little world the last little while.  The kids escape to school and I escape to work for 5 hours day but other than that we are here together at home.  Awareness of world events, sporting events, or extra school activities is very low.  This morning I was making fresh peach pancakes with Bekah and she asked if I remembered when we used to jam out to our favorite music while cooking breakfast and cleaning house Saturday mornings before Amber got sick.  We used to dance around, sing the songs at the top of our lungs, and happily accomplish just barely more than zero between breakfast and lunch even though we were supposedly doing chores.  She went on mixing ingredients.  She is so cute in the kitchen she is predictably careful and exact.  If you know Bekah, you know what I mean.  She left me marveling at how infrequently I find myself thinking about how things used to be before cancer (BC). 

I consider it one of the Lord's tender mercies that I am not missing the sweet parts about NOW by being a slave to what once was.  Many people focus on what cancer has taken away from them and others.  I believe that the Lord has helped me to focus on now which naturally allows me to focus more on His blessings and having gratitude for what he has given me now.

It's amazing that in the laboratory of life experience the Lord chooses clinical experiences for us that are bitter and some that are sweet so that we will learn to desire the sweet.  Neal A. Maxwell explained, “The sharp, side-by-side contrast of the sweet and the bitter is essential until the very end of this brief, mortal experience.”  If you and I walk in wisdom's paths we will learn what methods and processes in life lead us to experience lasting peace, joy, and happiness no matter what is going on in our lives.  The more experience the truly wise have with that side-by-side contrast of bitter and sweet, the less likely we are to take short cuts that lead to that which is fleeting and not fulfilling. 

On Monday, September 21st Amber passed her 5 month anniversary since her last chemo treatment.  When she went on hospice I remember her saying, "now I am really in the Lord's hands".  When she put herself in the Lord's hands if you had asked her if she would expect to be alive in 5 months I think she would have been no more than cautiously optimistic but not really hopeful.  Amber is sleeping a lot now and she gets a little frustrated because she does not like to, as she puts it, "sleep her life away".  She has days where she is not able to stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time even sitting up in her recliner.  Other days she is able to stay awake for eight hours strait in her recliner with only a little dozing.  She had an especially tough week the week of her 31st birthday (September 14-19th).  She was fighting some sort of infection and was fevered and feeling really yucky.  Its a good thing we had the huge, wonderful party 10 days before.  The fever has gone away and so did the infection.  Amber is declining slowly as each week  passes.  She is getting weaker, sleeps more, and eats less,  I don't know how much longer she will be here.  I have left that firmly in the Lord's hands.  The hospice team takes such good care of Amber and all of us that we could not ask for more.  We love and appreciate Carol and Sean from hospice for the loving care they give.  Amber's days are filled with comfortable rest interrupted by an occasional fist fight between kids.  If she has pain day or night or even on the weekends that her pump is not covering Carol or one of the on call nurses are quick to come help.  All I hope for at this time in Amber's life is that she have her pain managed, be able to rest comfortably, and feel the Lord's peace. 

I want to express with all my heart how grateful I am for the loving kindness of everyone.  I want to thank our angel mothers for their consistent presence in our lives and the great care.  I want to thank the army of ladies from church who bring wonderful meals to my family.  What a burden you lift!  Also our dear friend Dan Peck for the days and days that he has spent in our yard pulling weeds and trimming things.  It would be a beautiful mess instead of just beautiful without him.  I want to thank everyone for the loving cards given to Amber at her party and sent pretty much every day since.  She is so appreciative of your love and thoughtfulness.  I also want to thank Amber's friends from the breast cancer community.  None of you know Amber in a traditional sense but you show love and concern for her in very real ways.  The beautiful floral arrangement and cards from many of you for her birthday was especially appreciated.  I thank the Lord for his mercy and grace in our lives each day!  I truly stand all amazed.  . 


















9/26/2009 01:49:38 pm

Thank you for your true words of wisdom, It is comforting to see your strength you have for your family, that you are graced by so many people that love and care for each and everyone of you. Amber gives me so much strength. I think of her, you and your children very often. Many gentle hugs being sent your way.

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Tonya
9/27/2009 01:16:56 pm

May God continue to give Amber, you and your children the grace and peace to go through this trial. I am praying for all of you.

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9/27/2009 01:26:26 pm

Thank you for the update. I have been thinking of Amber and your family so often and just asked someone at church today for an update. THANK YOU! I cherish your words of wisdom and I cherish the example you have become to me. You have touched my life in so many ways and I am a better person for knowing you and your family. Bless sweet dear Amber! I love her dearly and share a special bond with her when I look into her eyes. I know Heavenly Father is there waiting with open arms to take away her pain and suffering.
Keep hold of the faith!
You are in my prayers!
Love, Carol Pyle

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Diane
9/28/2009 12:31:38 pm

Dan and Amber,

Thank you both for your amazing strength, grace, love, faith and the list goes on and on. I "met" Amber on the bc.org site the first day I visited the site after being diagnosed with IBC. Daily, I find myself thinking, what would Amber do. I have guilt that I am 2 years out from diagnosis and cancer free when I read her website. I marvel at your faith and pray that I will be able to find the faith and strength that you both have. You are an inspiration to the human race. I can not imagine how difficult it will be to say goodbye but I know you will all be okay. Amber has built such a strong foundation for her kids of love, faith and family. They will always know how much she loved them. I will keep you all in my prayers and pray that Amber's final journey is peaceful.

Diane

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Katie Chase
9/28/2009 01:19:37 pm

The growth I have seen in each member of your family as you have experienced this trial is amazing. Your testimonies have all deepened and grown firmer. People are not only watching Amber, but Dan and the children, and you are all rising to the occasion by leaning on the Lord. Thanks to all of you for being such an inspiration to me and to so many others. LOVE YOU ALL.

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9/29/2009 08:23:14 am

Dear Dan & Amber.
We have never met in the traditional sense, but I've become acquainted with the two of you thru your writings. What a legacy.

It is such an honor to read of your journey. Thru tears I attempt to assemble words to say thank you.

Dan, may you grasp the gift that you give the BC community by sharing from your heart, sharing from your kitchen, sharing from your reading & study.

I pray that our compassionate Heavenly Healer will hold you all safely in His divine hands and carry you. We are here for you. Praying and holding hands for Amber's well being.

Bless you. Bless these moments. Catalogue & treasure them. Hold them softly in your hearts.

Strength and courage.
Strength and courage.
Strength and courage.
xx00xx00xx00xx00xx00xx

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Kristi (formerly Chase) Neeleman
9/29/2009 10:00:15 am

Hey Dan.
Please let me be one of the hundreds who read each day or week or month or year about your struggles with Cancer and your and triumphs with Amber. Your mom filled me in last we met and I've been keeping track since that time.
I hope for her passing to be gentle and for your sorrow to be lessened (slightly) knowing you were her Iron Rod and she yours.
Love you always as a nephew,
Kristi

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Kristen
9/30/2009 01:22:04 am

Dan, tell Amber I love her and think of her often! I want to come visit with her for a few moments, I will call and ask when is good!

Thanks Kristen

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10/1/2009 12:49:00 pm

Dan and Amber - First off, I love you. Thank you for sharing your personal cancer journey in such a way that many people have been able to connect with you two on multiple levels. I still remember the first time I met you both- at TGI Fridays on a random night when I looked and saw that me and Amber had matching fuzzy hair. I'm so grateful for that brief introduction that allowed me to follow your life journey. I know the journey will continue into the eternities and for that I am truly grateful. Thank you for sharing your life and testimony with me and so many others.

God bless,

Ginger
Young Survivor Sisters

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Joyce
10/2/2009 02:17:58 pm

Amber,

You were the 1st to respond to me on the BC boards when I posted. My mom had been diagnosed with IBC and I was SO afraid. You really helped put my mind at ease when I was most afraid. I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! May your days be filled with the joy and peace and please know that although we have never met, you and your story have touched me deeply.

With Thanks, Love and Admiration,

Jadai

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Pat Medell
10/3/2009 03:48:18 am

Amber,
You are a dear, dear friend. I love you and please know my prayers are with you and your family. Love, Pat Medell

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10/4/2009 11:34:53 pm

Dear Dan and Amber;

May God continue to bless you both as you face his final journey together. I pray for peace as you go through this difficult time with your family.

Dan...I am just as amazed by you as I am by Amber sharing her story with so many women with breast cancer.

In her final days I wish you all comfort and peace.

With many blessings and prays God will hold her in the palm of his hands.

Vita Jankowski

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Shery
10/5/2009 06:48:17 am

Dan and Amber
I just want you guys to know that I love you and really admire your faith. I am thankful for you testimony of the gospel and your willingness to share it.

Reply
Vickie Harkness
10/7/2009 12:47:48 am

I mentioned that I wanted to send you more lyrics to another song that I just love. It was sung at Pres. Hinckley's funeral and the tab choir just happened to sing it Sunday morning on the Spoken Word before conference began. I had just finally gotten the complete words Friday night, and then when they sang it, it was the frosting on the cake. Again, it is so much more powerful with the music, but here are the lyrics and hopefully you can find the music and just play it. It is so peaceful and uplifting. It is by Issac Watts and is called, "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need", based on the 23rd Psalm. "My Shepherd will supply my need; Jehovah is His name. In pastures fresh He makes me feed beside the living stream. He brings my wond'ring spirit back when I forsake His ways, And leads me for His mercy's sake in paths of truth and grace. When I walk thru the shades of death, Thy presence is my stay. One word of Thy supporting breath draws all my fears away. Thy hand in sight of all my foes doth still my table spread. My cup of blessings overflows; Thine oil anoints my head. The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days. Oh, may thy house be mine abode and all my work be praise. There would I find a settled rest while others go and come. No more a stranger nor a guest, but like a child at home." I also love , "The Test", by Janice Kapp Perry, "I Know That My Redeemer lives", and "Rock of Ages" although put to a different musical setting than what is in the hymnal. One phrase is"...when I close my eyes in death and behold Thee on thy throne.", which we know, Amber, you will do because you lived your life so valiantly. I remember Elder Bruce R. McConkie in the talk he gave just days before he died of cancer. The exact date would have been April 6th, 1985. He said something to the effect,...Soon I will see Him and wet His feet with my tears, but I will not know anymore then, than I know now, that He lives and is my Savior. I should have looked up the exact quote before I typed this, but I know Amber and Dan that your testimonies are what have gotten you and your family through this trial, and that is a blessing. I bear my witness as well and say again, "All is Well!!" You will always be a shining example to me and countless others of this testimony and I thank you and will continue to pray for you both and your children and extended family. Love, Vickie

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10/7/2009 02:41:10 am

May the Lord bless you all and give the peace required. Your sharing of your faith has been a inspiration to us all.

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