An open letter to friends of TIS:
From the Owner:
Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers for my wife, Ana Lisa Willhite. The article below was published in the book "The Smile Never Fades" and support for the organization by the same name www.thesmileneverfades.com which my friend Bill Bastas oversees. Her article was published in the first edition of his book and as always, she looks very beautiful. Ana Lisa passed away from breast cancer on October 24, 2008 and the very young age of 39. She left two sweet boys behind; Colton, age 9 and Drake, who was 7. We will miss her forever and ever as long as we are here in our earthen vessel.
Richard W. Willhite
Article as published in "The Smile Never Fades"
My world was turned upside down in Sept of 2003. Cancer had found its way into my wife’s left breast and insanity has seemed to tag along to find its way into my brain. After the initial shock wore off and I could think semi-clearly I tried to approach her disease clinically. After all I had been working in health care since 1992 I had been taught to think clinically. I quickly found out that cancer had cut so deep in my psyche that logical or rational thinking was impossible for me. My wife, only being 34 years old, was having her own time dealing with it and somehow I found that I could not deal with it very well.
As the time progressed I found myself trying deferent coping mechanisms. None seem to work very well. The uncertainty of the disease was probably the most difficult to deal with. Would she pull through this or is this really the end. The sleepless nights thinking of life without her, our two young children, and every other conceivable thought that haunted my mind would not leave. I was angry, sad, depressed, lonely and hopeless all at the same time. The one ray of sunshine that seemed to shine through was that I knew my wife as a fighter and tougher than cancer. If anyone could beat this, it would be her. At times I felt that she was supporting me more than I was her. Together we sought mental relief in church and family and friends. I never knew so many people loved me and my wife until cancer stuck our family. I say “our family” because the effects of cancer reach far beyond the one it strikes. I have often said that there are three people in our marriage, me, my wife and cancer. I feel blessed, in a way, that our two boys were young enough not to truly comprehend what was going on. They knew “mommy” was sick, but looking back we coped, masked, and shielded them to a certain degree. Only being three and four years old we were really at a loss at what to tell them and how.
It has been five years now that my wife has been fighting this and I can truly say that she is the toughest, most determined person I know. The cancer started in the breast, went to the chest wall, and then the brain. Through it all she never gave up and neither did I. Although at times it seems the wheels were coming off the bus faster than we put them back on. One of my friends in Florida stated, “If you go to the dictionary and look up the word warrior, I’m sure you will find Ana Lisa’s picture beside it. She is strong and I love her more now than ever. With hair, without hair, in any condition she is the love of my life. We have grown closer with each other and most important closer with God. Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, knows every hair on her head (or none) and we have both learned to put our trust in Him. We have good doctors and nurses and medicine, but the Great Physician is what has kept my wife alive.
My wife is currently in remission and most days we are happy. I am happy she is still here and thankful for everyday she gets to spend with me and our boys. I know she could be gone at anytime, however, all the feeling of depression and fear have gone. Hope now feels the empty spaces of all the negative emotions that once domination my mind. My wife will never give up and neither will I. Cancer just may have found a person that is more stubborn and tougher than it is. Just never give up and put your faith and life in the hands of Christ and everything will be in harmony.
This afticle was first published about Ana Lisa, Richard their sons and the ordeal titled “Fight for Life” by Brian W. Ferrie, was recently posted on www.advanceforpt.com web site.