Letter from Sarah

Video from July 2011

One year ago I was diagnosed with “stage 4, terminal cancer.”  The doctors predicted I wouldn’t live more than two months, it was difficult to determine.  But here I write, one year later.  I won’t say it’s been a blissful year, without any pain or difficulties, I just know I wouldn’t change much about last year.

Aside from being diagnosed with cancer, there were a lot of good things that occurred during the same time.  I had a race prepared and ran in my name, married my boyfriend of three years, moved into a new house, and my health began to improve.  The new chemotherapy started working shortly after I was married so I wasn’t bed ridden the first year of my marriage.  I was living life to the fullest!  Unfortunately all good things do come to an end and I ended up in the hospital for three days one month ago.  My chemotherapy had stopped working and my painful tumors (sacral), grew back, causing severe nerve pain.   I remained hopeful and faithful and the physicians were able to treat me with a pain pump and an additional ten days of radiation.

I thought I was through the worst when my oncologist informed me we were almost out of chemotherapy options.  I hadn’t realized I had been on four different chemotherapies in the course of a year.  Next Tuesday will be the second dose of my new chemotherapy treatment, (a chemo used to treat breast cancer).  I’m currently receiving treatments to drain excess fluid that has built up around my lungs and abdomen.  Apparently it’s a common treatment with advanced cancer patients.  The tumors produce excess fluid and the liver can’t process or filter the extra fluid.  Today I had approximately seven pounds of fluid removed to make me more comfortable.  I laughed when I realized seven pounds was the size of a newborn baby!

With symptoms of pain and labored breathing decreased, I remain faithful that the Lord has a plan for me and remains mindful of my needs.  I find it very difficult to give in to the fight against cancer while I still have friends and family refusing to give up on me.  I remain forever grateful for the love and support given to me by so many.

All my love,
Sarah Hays Shurtz

Join us as we show support to those in our community battling cancer by running in the Sweatin’ for Sarah Salt Lake City 5k Race.

21 Responses to Letter from Sarah

  1. Sherrie Owens says:

    Dear Sarah I don’t know you, but you are a beautiful young woman of God and I know he loves you! I am sorry you are in this awful fight, but you sure seem courageous to me! I lost my brother 2 yrs ago and I miss him every day. He was also a very amazing person and I still talk to him often and feel him so close to me. The awesome memories we have keeps us close I feel from both sides. I am not quite up to a 5 k yet I have 2 new knees and my balance is not quite up to par, but I would love to donate a little to your awesome cause. I am seeing if my granddaughter wants to do the walk and will be in touch. I don’t know you but I love you anyway’s Take heart and keep up your great fight!

    love ya Sherrie

  2. nicole and scott kesten says:

    sarah and dan-
    thank you for the update. we love you both so much and know you are in our thoughts and prayers often. i will pass along this link and will make a donation as we won’t be able to be there..

    i hope you have a wonderful and special day. we love you both, nic

  3. Adam says:

    Sarah-

    I continue to have hope and know God has a direction for all of us. It feels me with happiness to know you and Dan FINALLY got a puppy!!! You have inspired me in more ways than you know. Thank you for showing me that regardless of our lives troubles we can always put a smile on and enjoy the friends, family and beauties around us!

    Love you, Dan, and your family

    -Adam

  4. Charlene Richens says:

    I had the awesome experience of running your 5k last year. The poster was in the staff bathroom of the LDS ICU of all places. If you don’t mind I will post it there this year and see if I can get some ICU RN’s and some other RT’s to run for you. We had a Ragnar team this year (it benefited the American Cancer Society) so we should be able to move our behinds for you! You are an inspiration, the memory of your smile and courage and my scrapbook page of last years race has brightened many a dark day for me. I faced a severe health crisis, but it was nothing like yours. I think I whined my whole way through it, and my co-workers saw a side of me they probably wish they hadn’t seen (literally!). I am very grateful to finally be healthy enough to run again.
    I look forward to seeing you at the water station!
    Char

  5. Sarah,
    We are so grateful to Kristen Muirhead for contacting us and The Pointe Academy last July. In Kristen’s emails she described you as the most kind and giving person she has ever known! Everyone who comes in contact with you feels the amazing spirit you radiate! One of our professional dancers, Randi Evans, ran in the 1st 5K “Sweatin for Sarah,” last Aug and you had a huge impact on her that day! As you do so many of us!
    Dancers Against Cancer has now has members all over the country & Canada the UK & even Egypt. We will do our best to help raise the much needed funds so you and Dan can grow old together! We love you!

  6. Sarah Hays Shurtz says:

    Thank you all for your very sweet and inspiring comments! It’s great to feel as though I have an army of “cancer haters / fighters” on my side. Cancer sucks! ;) May God Bless all those suffering from any terminal illness…

    love,
    Sarah

  7. Becka Hays says:

    I love you sis.. and I can’t wait to SWEAT in your honor.. I promise I will make you proud with my time this year… XOXOX… Love you always and forever!
    your little sis..

  8. Jennie Roos says:

    Sarah, you are such a fighter! I love your guts and am sending good thoughts your way. When I think about what you’re going through and how well you are handling it, it makes me want to be a better person. Thanks for being such a great example and inspiration. I guess I better dust off the running shoes and get this pregnant body ready for some well-needed exercise.
    Love,
    Jennie

  9. Corrine Reichman says:

    Hi Cutie, I’m always thinking of you, praying for you. I’m sosso glad were good friends. Love,YA

  10. Corrine Reichman says:

    thank you for being an awsome example!!

  11. Trisha Nichols says:

    Dear Sarah,
    I have known you for almost 20 years now (most of my life). :) You have always been a bright spot in my life. You were there for me in all of the difficult parts of my life and a lot of the fun stuff too! One thing I love about you is how nurturing you are. You taught me, through example, how to be a great mommy and how to care for others. Your testimony of Christ and His plan is incredible. I love your beautiful smile and your peaceful personality. The light of Christ radiates from you and you can’t help but make people fall in love with you. I sure love you and I am so glad God brought you into my life. Lately when I feel overwhelmed in my life and feel like shipping my kids off to military school (lol), I think about you. I think, “If sarah can take on cancer, I can certainly deal with my crazy life!!” You uplift me. You’ve changed me and you continue to inspire me. Can’t wait to run for you again!
    Love you,
    Trisha

  12. Sarah,

    I don’t know you, but I have followed your journey for a year now and have prayed for you. You know my sisters though, Trisha White and Jenni Holladay and I know your friends, Kristen and Kendra Kubal. I am also fighting Stage 4 cancer (melanoma), so I know the rollercoaster ride that you’re on! It is a humbling experience and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I feel grateful to have the kind of perspective that most don’t get until they are older in life and face a challenge like this. This last year for me has been difficult as well, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have been so blessed to have such amazing support from family, friends, community, church, and even strangers. I know that you can probably relate to that too! I would love to connect with you sometime, feel free to visit my blog and drop me a comment sometime! You will continue to be in my prayers and I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father has a great plan and purpose for you. Your faith is what will get you through this and you have remarkable faith. Keep on keepin’ on!!!

    All my love,
    Christina

  13. Sabrina Shuman says:

    Dearest Sarah,

    My goodness you are such an inspiration, even without personally knowing you! Your faith, love and strength are incredibly inspiring and I truly admire you. I have posted your race at the law firm I work at and am trying to get other people to run the 5k in your honor! I know that you are loved by our Heavenly Father and by so many others. Keep up your strength and smiles. We are all praying for you!
    Love,
    Sabrina

  14. Sarah says:

    Christina,
    I’ve been praying to find someone else going through something similar, and I found you! Thank you so much for contacting me – I’d really love to connect with you also… What is your blog address? My e-mail is sashurtz30@gmail.com if you wanted to e-mail me. Thank you for your e-mail, I’ll keep you in my prayers as well. God bless…

    Love,
    Sarah

  15. Sarah Shurtz says:

    Sherrie,
    Thank you for sharing that tender story of your brother, I too think we can still feel the presence of loved ones who have passed on. I hope your recovery is short and a success! You’re wonderful, thanks again.

    I wish I could thank each of you individually -I feel overwhelmed by all the love, kindness, and inspiring thoughts! I have faith that each of you know how much I treasure your words and friendship.
    I participated in an ‘interview’ with some friends tonight. I felt a little self conscience talking in front of the camera. Just keep in mind I’m on a fair amount of pain meds right now; if you watch it. ;) I love, love reading all your comments – feel free to update me on anything new in your lives!
    I’ve learned that fear is the opposite of faith. I try and remind my-self of that when I get scared or start to worry about something out of my control. If I’m ever feeling really blue or sick, I’ll call my siblings and ask them to fill me in on what funny things my nieces and nephews said and/or what they did to make it to ‘time out’ for the day. I’d recommend the treatment to anyone who has nieces or nephews! It always works!!
    I hope all of you are in good spirits and enjoying each day of this life! I can’t wait to see you guys at the race!!! ;) God Bless

    Love,
    Sarah Hays Shurtz

    p.s So glad I have a new puppy! I promise to bring Sam to the race so you all can meet the little guy. He loves making new friends – so bring your dogs!

  16. Sarah Shurtz says:

    Christina,
    Not sure if my comment to you posted… I’d love to connect with you. Please e-mail me at sashurtz30@gmail.com. What is the address of your blog? I’ll be praying for you as well. Gob Bless.

    Luv,
    Sarah Hays Shurtz

  17. Kelie says:

    Dear Sarah,

    I don’t know you, but I just watched your video on facebook, which was posted by a friend. I was so touched by your positive outlook on life. I lost my mother to breast cancer in April on her second bout with the illness. She fought it and beat it once in her 40s and had a recurrence in her 50s but by the time she was diagnosed she was already in the advanced stages of the disease. She was only 56 years old when she passed and left behind me and my 3 sisters, one of whom was only 17 years old. I was with her in her hospice room when she passed and it was the most intimate, spiritual moment of my life and I am grateful that she allowed me to share in that moment. I used to be a little afraid of death deep down, but not anymore.

    Watching her go through that fight for a year made me realize how strong cancer patients are. You hear the cliche’s all the time, but really, truly, the suffering is so great and to put on a happy face for the world like you do, and like my mom did, is no easy task. It takes enormous strength to remain hopeful and keep on fighting. My mom fought, and like you, they told her she had a month or two to live, tops. She lived for almost another year after that and I am grateful she didn’t just lay down and give up because I had an extra year of time with my mom that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

    I’m so happy to see so much support for you. I think if my mother had more resources, she would have had a better chance for survival. She had no insurance, no job, and couldn’t catch a break. I know my mom wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to go through that, so we do everything we can to lend a helping hand where we can. We ran the Race for the Cure just a few weeks after she died, in her memory.

    I won’t be running your race due to a recent knee injury, but I will do my darndest to spread the word and contribute myself as if I were running. God bless you, Sarah. Keep fighting the good fight and when your time comes, whether it be in 2 years or 50 years, know that you lived your life unfolded the way it was intended to and according to plan. Good luck, and keep inspiring people.

    • Sarah Shurtz says:

      Kelie,

      Thank you very much for your post. I was so touched by your comment, all I could do was cry. I’m so sorry to hear of your mothers passing but I appreciate your comment on death. I’ve been uneasy about death lately – fear of the unknown. I’m embarrassed to admit such a thing because I like to think my faith is unshakeable. I’m always reminding my-self that I’m only human and it’s okay to question certain things. My goal is to replace my fear with faith and the comments I’ve been receiving have helped a lot! Thanks again for your support, God bless!

      -Sarah

  18. meg- amores says:

    hi sarah,
    i don’t know you personally but i can already tell that you’re an amazing person. you are an inspiration to all of us, stricken with cancer or not. Im 27 years old, with stage 2 Hodgkins lymphoma and just finished chemotherapy. ive had a rough 8month ride with chemo and i can only imagine your plight having to go through 4 different regimen. im so blessed having to know that a person such as urself exists in this world. im still going to have radiation but im not scared simply for having known you. thank you. i started a blog 3 months ago just for the fun of it, ;) by the way, im a medical doctor but for the mean time i have to be the patient. :) life goes on. ! you are in my prayers.

    if you can, do check out my blog : http://www.whiteonblackbackground.blogspot.com

    regards,
    meg-

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