Photo courtesy Nate Dunford Photography

February 25, 1974~July 3, 2010

Amy is a 36 year old mother of 6.

On April 15th, 2010, she was diagnosed with a rare and terminal cancer: Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma.

Surrounded by her family and friends, she is determined to face her future with faith, hope, courage and love.

Surrounded by her family, and with Gary by her side, Amy passed away in the early morning hours of July 3rd, 2010. Just a short 2 1/2 months after being diagnosed with cancer.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My Tribute to Amy (at the concert)

Tonight was the benefit / tribute concert for Amy. The featured artist was Peter Breinholt, along with David Tolk and Craig Miner. Local bands Firehawk, and Intense country also shared their talents with us along with Kathleen Howard Provstgaard and Jalon Watts. Kathleen was the organizer of this event which was her idea, and I am so thankful to her for all the hard work she put in to make this special event possible. It was a wonderful night and alot of people showed up. The pictures included in this post are first of me sharing a tribute and thank you to everyone in attendence, Second, is a picture of Peter Breinholt, David Tolk, Craig Miner, Me and my kids. and last is a picture of all the crowd. Midway through the show I asked for a few minutes to share a tribute to my wife and the community. I hope this was a fitting tribute to the most amazing woman in the world. To all of you who were there, Thanks for comming. To those of you who were not, I'm sorry you missed out on a wonderful show and tribute to Amy. I thought you might like to read the tribute I prepared for Amy. I love her so much and miss her so much. She truly was and is my Super Hero. Here are my words that I shared with the crowd at the concert after my list of thank you's to everyone.

Most of you are aware of the many difficulties our family has been through over the last few months. I would like to take a minute and recap the events that have taken place in our lives over the past few month that has brought us to this point.

In February of this year, Amy started feeling pain in her lower back and left leg after a near fall. Over the next couple of months, she visited a chiropractor and doctor several times trying to get relief from the excruciating pain. Both doctors diagnosed her pain to a pinched or inflamed sciatic nerve. For weeks Amy followed the advice of her doctors trying to get the pain under control but nothing ever helped. The pain only continued to worsen. Then on April 15th, Amy woke in the middle of the night in horrible pain. A few minutes later, She was coughing up large clots of blood. Quickly we rushed her to the Hospital and later that morning we were told that Amy had a large mass on her right lung. A broncoscopy and biopsy were performed that same morning. The results came back very quickly. We were told that Amy had a rare and difficult to treat form of lung cancer that had spread to one of her ribs on her left side. We were informed that this cancer had a survival rate of less than 2% even if found before it had spread to other areas. The following day while still in the hospital, Amy began to lose the use of her right leg. She was quickly taken in for an MRI and we were told that afternoon that the cancer was far more spread than they had initially thought. They found a large tumor on her sacrum (the lower part of spine) this is what was causing all of her pain. And they found more than 33 tumors in her brain including one the size of a golf ball. At this point we were told that without treatment, Amy had only 1 to 3 weeks to live. All of this took place in just over 48 hours. You can never imagine the thoughts and questions that run through your mind when your life is completely turned upside down in just two days until it happens to you

The following Monday, we met with a radiation oncologist who told us that with radiation and Chemo Therapy he thought Amy may get as much as 6 to 9 months. Amy began radiation treatment that same day to try to reduce the size of the tumors in her brain and buy us some more time. Over the next two weeks, we were continuously bombarded with more bad news. First we were told that this particular cancer was extremely rare. Less than .02% of all lung cancers. Then we were told that it did not respond well to any chemotherapy. This again shortened her prognosis but the doctor felt like we could still get 4 to 6 months. Then a few days later, after a bone scan, we were told that the cancer had spread to her skull, neck, shoulder blades, sternum and all of her pelvic, hip and leg bones. The next major concern was Amy’s hips. They were so full of cancer that the doctors were concerned about hip fractures. At this point, Amy had lost almost full use of both of her legs and was completely wheel chair bound.
Over the next few weeks Amy was determined to use the time that was bought by her treatment to live life to the fullest and share every precious moment with her family and friends. Amy began putting together several projects for our kids and me. Including a trip to Build-a-bear where she placed a personal audio message for each of us in a stuffed animal so that each of us would always have her voice and a special message to remind us of her. She began a quest to read the book A Kissing Hand to all of her closest friends and family and give them a special token of her love. She had personalized quilts, picture projects and other things made for each of our kids and me and then, thanks to the wonderful not for profit foundation, A Life’s Wish and my sister in law Mel… Amy was able to go to Disneyland and the beach with our family and create some unforgettable, precious memories for us to cherish throughout our lives. The list goes on and on. She accomplished more service and showed more love in the 2 ½ months following her diagnosis than most of us do in a year.

Then on June 6th, Amy had a sudden and excruciating pain in her hips. She was taken by Ambulance to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. We were informed that she had a badly broken right hip and a hairline fracture in her left hip and femur that would surely become a complete break any time. After much consideration, Amy decided to be brought home and made as comfortable as possible so that she could spend her remaining time with her family.
Over the next few weeks Amy’s Health continued to decline. More tumors were discovered in her kidneys and Liver and still she continued to serve. She had special kissing hand gifts made for all of her closest friends and family, she found ways to strengthen and uplift everyone who came in contact with her. All of her concerns were for her family and friends who would be left behind. Then in the early morning hours of July 3rd 2010 after a courageous and valiant battle, our beloved angel Amy departed this life to begin the next leg of her amazing journey.
Now as I and many of you have watched Amy struggle and suffer over these past few months. We have continuously been amazed at her desire to continue to serve and help others. Amy has always been the most amazing person I have ever met. Throughout our seventeen years of marriage, I have watched in awe at everything Amy was able to accomplish. Amy was the most giving, loving, caring, thoughtful and unselfish person I have ever known and I am not just saying that because I am her husband. Many of you have witnessed the countless acts of love and service Amy has given to her family, friends and to this community. Over the years I have wondered how a person can be so selfless. A very select few people have the ability to impact a community and the world in the way that Amy did.

There were so many things that set Amy apart from all of us. She was well…just different than the rest of us… Amy gave her love more freely than anyone I know. She always remembered everyone and made everyone feel special. She always went out of her way to walk across a parking lot or a store just to say “Hi” to someone. She had a way of making everyone feel that they were so loved by her. I have heard so many people say that they felt that they were Amy’s best friend. Amy’s love was always unconditional. She never judged people on their past or their status. Amy loved everyone and she showed it. Amy made friends everywhere she went. She constantly amazed me how she would remember not only names and faces of people she had met only once but she would remember what they talked about the last time they met and she would start up the conversation right where they left off last time.

Amy was the most selfless person I know. Amy never considered what she may have to give up or miss out on in order to serve. In seventeen years I never once heard Amy say; I am too tired… too busy… or… I have more important things to worry about… or do. Never, did I see her ever hesitate even for one second to jump into action when some needed help. More often than not, she was the one who discovered the need for help and then she went to work recruiting all of us to help alongside her. Amy never turned down an opportunity to serve and she not only went the extra mile but she went 10 extra miles. Many, many nights I saw Amy stay awake all night to make sure everything was done for whatever project she was doing for someone at the time. Over and over again I would watch her take on new projects that needed to be done NOW, when I wondered how she would finish the project she was currently in the middle of that also needed to be done now but that never discouraged her. It was a rare thing when Amy wasn’t helping several people at once. I used to try and tell her she needs to slow down. She doesn’t need to do everything for everyone but she wouldn’t hear of it. More than one bishop told her to slow down and learn to say no, but that word was not in her vocabulary.

I used to say that everyone always asks her to do things or be in charge of things because they knew Amy would never tell them no. The truth… was that not only would she never say no… but she would more often than not… go way overboard just to make sure it was done to everyone’s satisfaction… and then she would throw in a little extra to boot followed by a sincere offer to do even more. Never did anyone have to worry if something would get done when Amy was in charge. I could go on and on about how amazing my wife was and most of you would sit and nod your heads in agreement on every point. She truly knew what it meant to serve and what it meant to love.

I watched her as she constantly put together one token after another to show individuals that she loved them and was thinking about them. Constantly she would make special deliveries to multiple schools in the middle of the day to deliver a trinket or treat to one of her young women or our children to brighten their day or wish them luck. I always told her Amy, you’re making the rest of us look bad. Amy never stopped. It was her life to be doing things for other people. That was what made her tick. The amazing thing was that even after she was diagnosed with cancer and became wheel chair bound and later bed ridden, she still never stopped serving. Right up to her last breath, Amy continued to perform amazing acts of love and service. She never worried about herself. Her hours of sitting or laying, unable to get out and do the things she loved, were filled with making plans to help to strengthen, inspire and uplift all of us around her. She was a true disciple of Christ right up to the end and in the end; Amy has given us the most amazing gift she possibly could. And it is a gift that perhaps no one else in this community could have given us. It is a gift and a legacy that will stand the test of time. Amy has planted in all of our hearts a desire to be more like her. She has inspired a whole community to serve and show love on a scale that I would dare say has never been seen in our community before. She has impacted so many of us in such a way to literally change our lives to become better citizens and brothers and sisters. She has brought so many of us together to stand for something good that few of us ever could duplicate such a thing.

Though our family has been through some extremely difficult times this past few months, to be part of this catalyst for such wonderful growth and change in our community has been a great honor to me. I have seen our community come together and not only help a family in need but to grow closer and stronger because of it. I have seen new friendships forged. I have seen new bonds created. I have seen people strengthened in their ability to care for those around them and show more love. And I have witnessed people making pledges to serve more in the community and be more like Amy. I have seen people make a greater effort to go out of their way just to say hi to someone or to make someone feel special. Amy has been an angel to our community and she has truly blessed our lives and made our world a better place than it was before.

Now as we all try to move forward without her, it is my greatest desire that we as a community continue her legacy. It is my wish that each of us commit right here and now to be better people. It is my prayer that we all have an increased desire to be more like Amy. It is my hope that each of us leaves here more determined to serve, more desirous to share what we have with others and more strengthened in our resolve to show unconditional love to everyone around us. I hope that we will each be more willing to come out of our shells and try to get to know each other better.
Now I would like to try an experiment. I would like everyone to take a minute and look around yourselves, find someone that you don’t know or that you don’t know very well. What the heck, be like Amy find 4 or 5 or maybe a dozen. Now I want to issue a challenge to each of you. Before the night is over, I want you to go up to that person and say hi. I want you to introduce yourself to them and just get to know them. Ask them some questions and genuinely show interest in their answers. Exchange some information and make a conscious effort to remember their face, their name and what you learned about them tonight and the next time you see them I want you to make a real effort to walk up to them and say “Hi”, and talk to them about you learned tonight. Then each of you will have left here with at least one new friend. Each of you will have experienced what came so natural to Amy and each of you will help to carry on Amy’s Legacy of bringing our community closer together.

I also want to challenge each of you to leave here tonight and make a conscious effort each day to find someone whose day needs to be brightened and find a way to brighten it. Then I want each of you to find some way in which you can volunteer in the community whether it is at the schools with the recreational programs, with the city celebration, within your church or ward organizations or any other good community program or cause. When someone asks you to help, remember Amy and think of what she would do if she were here.
Unfortunately, we no longer have Amy here with us to show us service and inspire us into serving alongside her. Our community suffered a tremendous loss with her passing. However, if each of us here will determine here and now to not let Amy’s legacy die with her, but to carry it forward with our own actions and do what she would do if she were here, then this community will continue to grow together and become a city like no other in the world. This is what Amy would want. She loved this community so much and saw our potential. If each of us resolves to be more like Amy and to serve and love unconditionally without thought of reward or praise, we can multiply her affect on the community a hundred fold. I have heard it said… What would this world be like if all of us were more like Amy…? Can you just imagine what this town would be like… I say let’s find out. Let’s not just talk about it, or wish it would happen, let’s actually do it… It does no good to say I wish I were more like Amy… Only our resolve to ACT as Amy would act and DO as Amy would do… will show us what our community will be like if we are all like her.
I believe we can do it. I say let’s get started now... one show of love and one act of service at a time.

I am so grateful for this wonderful community in which we live. I am so grateful for all the love and support that has been shown to our family through this difficult time. Thank you everyone for all the countless hours of love and service that have been given to our family. Thank you for all the donations and gifts we have received. We can never repay you all for your love and we can never thank you enough.

In closing I would like to say that I am so proud to have been able to call Amy my wife. And I am so thankful for the legacy that she has left all of us. May we carry it forward in each of our lives in the way we live and serve and may we always remember Amy and try to live as she taught us. I love you all so much and thank you for being here. May the Lords greatest blessings be poured out upon each of you and our community is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Beautiful Life

Our dear beloved Amy passed away this morning at 2:35 AM surrounded by her family who she loved so much. This has been such a hard battle over the past couple of months and she has fought it valiantly. Amy we will miss you more than words can possibly say.
Thank you all so much for your love and support.

Gary Jackson and family