By Ron Richards
We were just 30 when we learned that Sara had a lump in her right breast. We had hoped it to be a cyst or some kind of benign mass. When we discovered it was cancer, we had choices to make.
Sara led the way. My wife of six years insisted the disease would not rule our life. It was dealt with surgically and we moved on. Over the next 22 years, I have to say her illness never ruled our lives, in spite of, at times, its significant presence.
It was almost like it was a nuisance. At times, it became a big nuisance, that’s for sure. But Sara’s insistence on staying positive and focusing on the life ahead was always our focus.
There were so many times I was amazed and inspired by Sara’s resolve and resilience. As the disease progressed, she often said how important it was to stay positive in every aspect of life. Allowing negativity to creep in, she said, was a waste of energy and, since she, every day, had a declining amount of energy to work with, she clearly understood negative thoughts and moments would deliver no benefit.
Sara almost never complained about the cancer that was ravaging her body. She rarely showed any outward sign of pain. When she would see and meet people, they almost always walked away saying how Sara had inspired them and made their day better, even as they thought they should have been doing that for her.
As her life with breast cancer was playing out, we faced other major challenges. We had adopted an infant, Korean daughter, who, we soon discovered, had severe mental health issues. In fact, her illness grew to be so involved that for 36 of the final 42 months of Sara’s life, our teen-aged daughter was in locked, 24-hour psychiatric care. On top of that, I was found to have kidney cancer that had to be dealt with through surgery. The bulk of all this occurred in the final four years of Sara’s life, a time in which I changed careers to be her primary caregiver. To say it was stressful and intense is a vast understatement.
Sara’s positivity bled over into planning for the future without her and she made me promise a couple things as we talked in the final year of her life. First, she wanted me to swear I would find another woman with whom I could share the remainder of my life. I am pleased to say I have done so in my second wife, Lisa. Second, she made me promise I would reach out to tell our story. She insisted that I tell how we had such a positive and full life together, in spite of our many major challenges. I have done so in ‘Dodging Dandelions,’ my story of how we lived through it all in a positive way and learned how we could move forward in our lives despite difficult times in their lives.. Our wish has always been that it serve to inspire others as they deal with significant challenges in their lives. It’s on Amazon in both printed and Kindle form, as well as on iBooks, BN.com and several other retail book outlets.
Sara’s life – and the way she lived it – was such an inspiration to so many people. It was not surprising that, at her memorial service in our Michigan church, it was standing room only as people came by he hundreds to pay their respects. It was only fitting for a woman who inspired so many to have such an outpouring of love and affection in her memory. She is missed by many and her words of positivity and encouragement still inspire people daily.