Heather’s Day

Heather would have turned 21 on May 7. We spent that day quietly mourning and to honor her memory we went to her favorite restaurant, Joe’s Carbshack, and had dinner and remembered her.

This past weekend, our North Carolina friends came up to help honor her life. We revamped her headstone flowers and I gave her a big beautiful planter to watch grow. As Shelby so eloquently put it we declared “no more cancer, only Heather!”

Out with the yellow and back with her real favorite color….PINK!

We were joined by family and friends for a cookout and although our plans for a bonfire were dampened by rain, it did let up at some point enough for us to set off our Chinese sky lanterns. It was a wonderful sight. We laughed and cried and appreciated each others company.

Thanks everyone for making this a little easier on our hearts.


Heather’s Day

Heather's Day

You will always be alive to us.


Happy Nurses Week My Friend….

In honor of Nurses week I would like to share a paper I wrote for my college English class. It profiles a very special person that I have know who works at UK pediatric hospital.



Do you believe in angels? Do you believe that everyone has a purpose? Have you ever met someone whom your gut told you were special, maybe even angelic? I believe. It was during the journey with my daughter’s battle with cancer when I met such a person.

I’d like you to meet Jon Smith, to the ordinary eye he may seem like just a person, a nurse at UK Children’s hospital, a husband, a father, a son, a friend. However, I know better, for I have seen beyond the exterior. I have seen into the heart of Jon. I know he is special, and he knows it; he believes it. Jon became a nurse with the knowledge from the beginning that he was to be used as a tool by God. He didn’t know where it would lead him, but he followed with faith.

Jon grew up in a family that held a college education in high esteem. His mother pressured him to go to college, and he went to nursing school at Eastern Kentucky University. Jon says that “Nursing school was one of the hardest things I have ever done”. He describes himself as ADD and not having an easy time with learning. When asked of his struggles he said, “I think the only reason I got through was because of divine intervention…”

Jon has been at UK for a little over three years. He’s one of very few male nurses, and it doesn’t bother him that people stereotype him as being gay, “It doesn’t take them long to realize I’m not” he says. He thinks that he sometimes is treated better by the doctors than his female counterparts, but he contributes it to his personality as much as his gender.

Jon works with a lot of critically and terminally ill children. I first met Jon soon after my 17-year-old daughter, Heather, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She was a patient at the hospital quite often in the beginning when she did chemo and radiation. At first, Heather was uncomfortable with him being her nurse because he had to access her for chemo in a port that was located just under the skin, between her breast and for a modest a teenage girl, that was too much. However, it didn’t take long for us to see how special Jon was, and she started requesting him. Later on, they would automatically give her to him when she was admitted. Towards the end, when she would need to be admitted for pain control, she wouldn’t agree to it unless he was her nurse.

When asked how he came to work there he says that “I always knew that I would work with kids; I just didn’t know when” . “I wasn’t necessarily looking to work with kids when I got this job, it all just kind of happened”

During our battle with cancer, I had many conversations with Jon and his beliefs. He would find me many times in the hours before dawn barely hanging on to sanity, and he would listen to me cry and pour my heart out to him. We would have a conversation about life, death, God, kids, parenthood, and love. He always managed to be there when I needed someone most. We would both feel the presence of God in our conversations and we both would feel that we were having a moment.

It’s hard taking care of children who are so sick and some you know are going to lose their battle, but Jon does it with humor and grace and love. He admits to breaking down into a “slobbering mess” on occasions, but when asked how he copes, he said this “It’s God. I believe in a master plan. I believe that all things are from, and of God even what most people believe to be bad. So even as horrible as it is to see a child suffer or even die I know that it is exactly how it is supposed to be. I also have the perspective that everything alive dies; so I don’t see how death can be bad (that’s only speaking for the individual dying not the survivors). It is just another component of life. I can only hope that if something ever happens to me or my loved ones, I would be able to retain this perspective. Time will tell.”

Jon has a knack for making nervous and scared children, and parents feel more at ease when they are at their darkest moments. One would think that this knowledge would make him arrogant, but it doesn’t. I think it makes him humble. When asked about it, he reacts, “Well, first of all, because I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. God is using me in those moments to help someone. The other answer is my perspective on taking care of someone. I want my patients and families to feel as if one of their friends is taking care of them. It is just better for everyone, and the patient and family will heal better. That’s what it’s all about right?”

One night while in the hospital, Heather was grumpy and irritable. Jon didn’t let this bother him. He was determined to make her smile, and he stopped at nothing to do it. When she least expected it, one of the other nurses brought in a cd player and pressed play. Madonna’s song “Like a Virgin” started to fill the silent room and Jon jumped in the room with a big white bow tied around his bald head singing and dancing to the music. It worked; Heather couldn’t help but smile. We needed that and he knew it.

Jon loves his job and feels that he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing “When I am in a moment being used by God, and I’m aware of it. When everything in the world feels it is exactly the way it is supposed to be. I get goose bumps on the inside of my body; that’s when I know I am being used by God. 99.9% of the time I can tell the other person or persons can feel it as well. Experience is the only true way to understand what I’m saying, but I live for it.

Later down the road, Jon was working third shift, and Heather was his patient. She had been through some rough times, and our spirits were shaken. Nothing was said to Jon about our moods, but he felt it. We were laying there in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, and he came quietly in the door. He said that he had felt our spirits were hurting and felt compelled to come help us. God had put a song in his heart, and he suddenly had the knowledge that it was meant for us. There in the quiet of the room, without music, he softly sang a song that reached in deep and touched both our souls. I cried and all I could do was hug him. Heather smiled and could finally fall asleep. Words can’t describe what happened in that hospital room that night.

I’ve often wondered what makes Jon tick, and this interview was a wonderful opportunity to ask just that. His answer didn’t surprise me, but it did bring a tear to my eyes. “I have probably hinted on this a bit throughout this interview, but the one main answer is God. I want to be the best man I can possibly be for God. Not because I am doing everything to get to heaven or to avoid some fiery pit but just simply because I am so thankful that God has given me the opportunity to be alive and to experience life. The thing that keeps me going day after day is yearning for that addictive beautiful experience of being used by God. Being in a moment where everything feels exactly right, you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be. A moment of no more doubts, a perfect moment and I have had so many of these it is just a matter of time until the next one, and I can hardly wait. Nothing compares to it, nothing!”

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