My Story

After I discovered the tumor behind her right ear in August of '79, it took me several months and several doctors to confirm what I knew from the beginning: "It's cancer." By the time they operated, it was in the 3rd stage. The race was on to save her life, starting with surgery and radiation, going through various alternative therapies, and ending up having to leave the country to get immunotherapy in the Bahamas. Despite our valant efforts and Amber's incredible courage, the metastasis grew out of control. Because we were in the media, we could not find an American surgeon to help us. Our last hope was Bernie Siegel. Despite the politics surrounding cancer and us, he agreed to take Amber into his care and treat her as his own.

After a barrage of tests revealed that she could not be saved, we decided to make the rest of her life the best of her life, then let her die at home. With Bernie's guidance, his use of "Spontaneous Drawings," and treasuring each moment of life, we helped her "cross the threshold." As a result, her death was miraculous. She died on my 27th birthday, October 30, 1980.

Before she left this earth, Amber gave me the most precious gift I've ever received. It has sustained me through the years and helped others to see death differently. Shortly before she slipped into a coma, she told me the secret to what happens after we die. "Mom, when I die, I'll still be Amber, I'll just be different." Amber did not "pass away." I did not "lose a child." She is still with me, but different. With this knowledge, I am at peace with her death but not with the "killer."  I cannot… I will not accept cancer.

Because of the controversy surrounding Amber, we could not find anyone to come to our home to pronounce her "dead."  Bernie told us to bring her body to St. Raphael's Hospital, in New Haven. He made the arrangements. As she lay dead on the stretcher, I finally learned my Life Task.

"Embrace the Angel" excerpt: Chapter 14, "Crossing the Threshold:"

"I walked towards the automatic doors, her lifeless body swaying to my step.  Beyond the parting doors, I could see a crowd.  Nurses, doctors, secretaries, visitors, priests, and nuns had gathered there to pay their last respects to this little girl—their little girl—who had fought so bravely to the very end.  At once, I could see I wasn't alone, that they had suffered, too.  They had hoped for her recovery, prayed for her life, and watched along with me as she slowly and painfully died.  Many were crying.  Their grief forced them to turn to each other for comfort.  I felt no pangs of sadness or sorrow; I still felt the glory of God.  I was at peace, and so was my baby.

Dr. Raine, a young intern, directed us to a small room that was separated from the Emergency Room by a curtain.  I placed her body on the stretcher and studied it... absorbing every inch... filling my mind with the memory of Amber.  "Perfect feet... hands... lips... eyes..."  I stopped at the tumor.  I moved closer to inspect it.  Since she wasn't there and could feel no pain, I shook it.  It felt like gelatin: Soft, powerless, sickening.  It was enormous; nearly the same size as her head.  "How can something so pathetic... so ugly... kill my beautiful little girl?!?!"  Just under my skin, seething rage was coursing through my veins.  In my mind, I could see a battlefield strewn with the bodies of all the other children who had died before Amber and the bodies of children yet to come.

Instantly, I felt as though I'd been injected with a tranquilizer.  My hatred gave way to a new understanding.  "Don't waste your life hating. Your time on this earth is too short. Take her message...take MY message to the world. WRITE THE BOOK. Save the others."  I took a vow: "I will."

This website an extension of this vow and another step in completing my Life Task.

"Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."—Lao Tzu

Feel free to explore this website and learn more about Amber and me—who I am and what I'm doing. Through the coming weeks, I'll be adding more movies, recordings, drawings, angel jewelry, and resources. Please "Like" us on FaceBook and help spread her message by sharing this with others. 

If you are involved with cancer—whether you are nurturing people who have it, helping to ease the suffering of the loved ones who've been left behind, are in an organization who believes in and is working towards preventing, detecting, treating, and curing cancer, or would like your voice to join ours, you can contact us. Thank you so much for taking the time to care.

Warm regards,

Patti


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