Stephanie and Victoria traveled from England to San Francisco on September 8th 2012. It was a time for sisters, the very best of friends, to be together. The Giants won the game they "snagged" tickets for. Then on to Lake Tahoe, including dinner to meet Mary, and to reconcile with us after 7 years of separation caused by my impulsive alcoholic behavior.
Stephanie was heard to say to many; "it was a holiday of a lifetime."
Stephanie noticed that an inflamed lymph gland, which had been biopsied shortly before their vacation, was starting to hurt. But in her usual way, she did not mention it to me, as she hated anyone being concerned over her health.
The inflamed lymph gland was metastatic melanoma. The next phone call was every parents nightmare. Emergency surgery was scheduled for the next day. Stephanie's brave fight for life had begun.
This is a word that I gave to our church on the Sunday after her funeral. I needed our church, and the millions who prayed for us, to know that our prayers had been heard. It is an account of what happened as I walked along the beach in front of her hospital in Wales, Easter Sunday afternoon, April 20, 2014, two weeks before she died.
No one could have fought harder, or put themselves through more misery to win the battle for life than Stephanie did. Surgery; Clinical trials; Radiation treatments and multiple rounds of different chemotherapy. On May 5th 2014, the suffering ended, and Stephanie went home to be with Jesus.
Stephanie's mother Julie lost her battle to ovarian cancer in April 2015. She died with a broken heart, yet fighting to be a mother to Victoria to the last breath. She asked for privacy, so we have waited before publishing this message.
My own recovery has been difficult. I spiraled into a deep depression for most of 2014. I have ridden an emotional roller coaster of grief through 2015. Mary and I visited New York in January 2016, to remember Stephanie, to eat at her favorite Fluffies Cafe, and to continue our spiritual recovery.
Last week - 1st March 2016 - Stephanie's wedding anniversary - what she called the happiest day of her life - seemed a fitting day to launch - Recovery in Christ - to help others who are in the dark places I have visited - hear the Gospel's good news - to believe in Jesus - to find the light - the perfect peace that only Jesus offers.