This may seem odd...that I am blogging as I go through the process of losing my husband to cancer. But, for some reason I feel compelled to share this journey. Somewhere out there, I know there has to be at least 1, and probably more than 1, other person walking this walk. Maybe, through this - we'll find each other and realize we are not alone.
Isaac Nathanael Smith was born on February 12, 1985. He was the son of Bruce and Barbara Smith and big brother to Abigail. Isaac was an avid soccer player when he was younger. As he grew older, he developed a love of bird watching! Isaac also loved to read, talk theology, play video games, and spend time with his friends.
Isaac's journey with cancer began in the early spring of 2005. He was a student in the Missionary Aviation program, a dual program offered at Spokane Community College and Moody (Northwest) Bible Institute. Isaac had been living in Washington state for almost 2 years when he began experiencing pain in his knee. As an avid soccer player and a regular in the gym, Isaac thought it was just a knee injury. When Advil stopped helping the pain, his mom suggested he see an orthopedic doctor for help. On April 5, 2005, to the shock of everyone, including the doctor, Isaac was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma – a rare cancer of the hard bone. Within a week, Isaac flew back home for consultations with oncologists and surgeons.
To make a long list of medical history short, Isaac spent the next almost 5 years enduring a total knee replacement, multiple lung surgeries, removal of part of his pelvis, several types of radiation treatments, countless blood transfusions, and well over 50 rounds of high dose chemotherapy.
During that time, he began working with the youth group at his church, and that’s where I (Jess) enter his journey. It was July 7, 2007 when I visited him in the hospital for the first time. We’d been acquaintances up to that point, but when I walked out of the hospital that day I knew we’d be something more. I’d never met someone in such extreme circumstances that still had such a positive attitude and total reliance on the sovereignty of God. We became close friends very quickly and started dating on February 19, 2008. On August 9, 2008, Isaac asked me to marry him and I said YES! We were joyfully married on June 26, 2009.
We enjoyed our summer learning how to be husband and wife, and began searching to find our first house. In September of 2009, scans revealed that Isaac had about 20 small tumors that "bloomed" in his lungs. We knew osteosarcoma was nearly incurable, but we never expected to get that news less than 3 months after we were married.
We made our first visit to Dr. Pete Anderson at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX and got Isaac on a new regimen of meds. Between 3 hospitalizations, including one stay in the ICU for pneumonia, we managed to find and buy our first house.
After a 2nd visit to Texas in December; Isaac’s condition began rapidly deteriorating in January 2010. He was hospitalized and had almost a liter of fluid removed from his lungs, and came home on permanent oxygen. We called in hospice at the end of January. After 3 _ weeks of hospice care, Isaac met Jesus on February 24, 2010.
I could write pages and pages telling you all of the amazing things that made Isaac a wonderful husband, friend, son, mentor, man of God and true cancer warrior. He was the most humble person I’ve ever known and lived every day of his life trying to share the reason for his hope – his faith in Jesus Christ. Isaac wrote an email to me once that said this:
“When I die, I don't want to leave a legacy, I want my life to be like a sign that points to the Grand Canyon and says: "Grand Canyon 2 miles". Most people will look at the sign and not even think twice about the sign in itself, but instead, will look forward to getting to the Grand Canyon.”
Isaac wanted his life to point not to himself, but to Jesus. Those of us left on earth miss him dearly, and we anxiously await our joyous reunion in Heaven!