Cancer kills but it can't kill love. When Terri Cotton was diagnosed with leukemia, cancer took over her life and her marriage. Practically newlyweds, she and husband Richard had to deal with the devastating news that Terri might have less than seven years to live. Their battle began. They could do nothing -- from taking trips to making decisions -- without considering the cancer. When leukemia morphed into a more deadly form of cancer - and a stem cell transplant became Terri's only hope - she and her husband began a quest that took them so far from normal the only way to endure was with a sense of humor. This is the story of Terri's courageous journey and her death. It is also the story of her life, and the story of the love Terri and Richard shared for far too brief a moment in time. And it's the story of how that love lives on.
Richard gives an overview of the book:
Thinking it was going to be a long day, I went downstairs to eat something.
A nurse was in Terri's room changing the cartridge in the pain medicine pump when I returned.
"I'm bringing platelets in next," she said.
I sighed and thought again about my next words.
"No," I finally managed to get out. "Don't bring anything else in. She's had enough, much more than enough, really."
The time had come. Terri had nothing left to fight with. Everything had failed. I was as scared as I'd ever been. Before the nurse left, she closed the curtains, then turned to me and said, "When her blood pressure drops below 40, it won't be long after that." She pulled a cart in front of the closed door so no one accidentally came into the room.
I began calling family on my cell phone: Bethany, Terry, Ruth, Randy (I never reached him), my mom, Becky, my other sister Angie, Yani, TC and Meagan. I told each of them I would put the earphone in Terri's ear and they could say goodbye to her; I would watch the phone's screen to let me know when they finished and hung up.
Ryan was in school so I couldn't call him. I told Becky (she was still in Saltillo) to drive to the school and get Ryan out of class. She did and they went outside the school so Ryan could talk the last time to his mama, who he loved more than anything or anybody. Becky told me later he cried through the one-sided conversation but decided to return to class rather than leave school. (A year later, a couple months before he graduated, Ryan was given the Saltillo High School Principal's Award for succeeding in spite of overwhelming adversity.)
Then it was time for my final few moments with the person who had made me so happy. I held her and told her time and time again how much I loved her and how much I was going to miss her (I miscalculated that because it is much worse than I ever imagined) and that it was all right for her to go. We would be OK and we would remember her always.
I glanced periodically at the monitor and it slowly dropped below 60, 50 and then 40. Only a moment later I knew she was gone.
Wrote my first freelance article in 1985. Turned to full-time freelancing in 1990. Have written/shot for 100-plus publications and agencies during my career, which includes thousands of published pieces and photos. Published my first book, "Then Came Cancer: A Love Story...