Sandy Beardsley
Living with a Brain Tumor
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08/01/06
Finish Line
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 5:57 pm

We arrived home from Portland yesterday (Monday). Though utterly exhausted and spent from the grueling 300-mile journey, she was happy to be home and get into her own bed. She immediately fell asleep and slept through the night. When I could not rouse her during the night to give her medication, I realized she was probably entering a coma-like state. This was confirmed by her nurse this morning when she took her vital signs — blood pressure low and oxygen level very low. She is not in any pain and is sleeping soundly right now. But she has awakened twice and has been very lucid, talkative and hungry. She spent her last energy and willed herself to make it to the LiveStrong Challenge. And she made it. These past weeks of staying awake around the clock was a deliberate act to stay awake and not allow sleep to take ahold before she made it to Portland. Now that we’re back home, she is letting go and allowing the journey to continue.

The LiveStrong Challenge day on Sunday is beyond my ability to completely convey in words. Our friends and family and anyone else who saw her there can add to my words. I know I will leave moments out. There were so many. But it was one of the most incredible days of our lives. We arrived at the event site the evening before, parked in a special spot reserved for us right near the start / finish line (thanks to Mary L who had contacted the event organizers ahead of time with Sandy’s story) and our entire team gathered. Team members and dear friends Don and Deb provided wonderful food and wine. It was a grand gathering. You could see Sandy’s energy and spirit lighting up by the minute.

The next morning we were up at 5am getting ready. Sandy was not able to walk without a lot of assistance but she was revved up and anxious for the day ahead. Around 6am, Jake (our event contact person) showed up with a large poster of the Lance Armstrong Foundation manifesto — signed by Lance. Sandy and I were thrilled. But that was just the beginning. A short time later we were directed into a VIP area a short distance away near a large motorhome. Sandy’s brother Eric, friend Mary and myself pushed her wheelchair to this area and waited. After awhile, Lance Armstrong came out of the bus, wearing his cycling jersey and shorts - ready for the ride - talked to a few people nearby and then came over to us. What an unbelievable experience to meet, shake the hand and talk with the man who has inspired us for so long. We talked with him for a few minutes — Sandy sharing the short version of her story and how we had sat there sobbing as we watched him win his first tour in 1999 just after Sandy was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and how Lance pounding those pedals up the mountains had been so inspiring for so long. Lance stopped her and said, “No, it’s people like you who inspire me.”  Among the other things Sandy said to him was “Spend time with your kids.”  Lance’s face lighted up at that and he smiled wide and said “Don’t worry. I am.”  Sandy told him to have a good ride, we shook hands, he kissed her cheek and headed for the starting line to give a speech to the hundreds of cyclists and walkers and runners gathered there.


Sandy’s brother Eric, me (Dan), Sandy, friend Mary and Lance

They let us be right next to the podium while Lance and others spoke. A short time later, another big moment… after all the cyclists started  (including our teammates Eric, Don, Luke, Barb, Chris and Robin), Sandy and I and the rest of our walking team were directed to the starting line to lead the walkers and runners out. What a moment to be heading out in front of hundreds of cheering people with a police motorcycle escort. We shared turns pushing Sandy in the wheelchair. Before the walk began, Sandy came up with the idea to get up out her wheelchair and walk 16 steps in honor of our 16 team members, plus one for Bob, Patty’s soulmate, who died 3 years ago… and as we came toward the finish line we stopped and I helped her stand up and with some assistance she walked those 17 steps and quite few more — the huge crowd gathered at the line cheering her on and the announcer in tears. It was unbelievable. The moment was filmed by local televsion crew who interviewed us later. And that moment was the main highlight in the TV news about the event. We haven’t seen it yet, but have heard from many who have.

A quote from an email I just got from one of the organizers at LAF — “One of the most moving and memorable moments of the entire weekend, and quite honestly the past 6 years that I have been involved with LAF events, took place at the finish line of the 5K walk. Sandra Beardsley crossed the finish line with the determination, grace and fighting spirit that has been with her during her 7 year battle with a brain tumor.  Sandy and her family were determined that she would participate in the LIVESTRONG Challenge, and went against their doctor’s and hospice orders and her team “Friends of
Sandy” pushed her wheel chair on the 5K walk course, and then she walked the last steps, with the support of her husband, and friends, across the finish line.”

Other moments happened at the post-ride party where she was interviewed in front of hundreds, sharing her story. Many people, some with her same type of brain tumor, came up and talked with her during the day, telling her how inspiring she was. Also, in true Sandy fashion of worrying about everyone else, she convinced me to go to the prostate cancer screening bus and get tested. I did. Friends of Sandy Team members and anyone else there, feel free to share any other thoughts and moments of the trip in the comments section.

Again, I want to thank everyone on the team for being there and helping us raise more than $10,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation — Eric, Pat, Patty, Mary, Barb, Don, Deb, Susie, Leslie, Luke, Chris, Robin, Megan, Caryn. And a huge thank you to all those who made the long journey to Portland possible. In particular, Dr. Batson and his RV — you’re a saint of a man. And also our bus mates - Patty and Mary. And everyone else who played a part in making this happen, I am forever and profoundly grateful. What an incredibly strong team we have all around us.

For the past seven years Sandy has been depressed and sometimes angry that there would be no “finish line” in her battle with cancer — no guarantee the radiation treatments early on would work, no surgery that could completely remove the brain tumor, no chemotherapy that would take the cancer out of her body, no other treatment available…. but today, when Sandy came out of her coma-like sleep, I told her that she had found her finish line, and what a finish line it was - lined with hundreds of people cheering her on. I can still hear the cowbells ringing. She smiled and said, “Yes, a finish line…” And fell asleep again.

Good night,
Dan

31 Responses to “Finish Line”

  1. Robert Bowman Says:
    This is by far the most profound journal yet Dan. I cannot convey in words how deeply I felt as I read (and cried) and how much you and Sandy have given to others throughout this ordeal. God bless you all. -Robert
  2. Robin O'Hearn Says:
    Damn it, Dan. You have a great gift with your writing skills. You realize there’s a new second career for you keeping this blog going forever. It doesn’t surprise me that Sandy saved the last of her energy for the weekend. Chris and I felt immensely honored to be included in the Livestrong event and that incredible experience with Sandy, you, Lance and all our newfound friends on the team. That time together was like magic. I took over 100 photos which I’ll put on a webpage for all to see and will share the address soon as it’s ready. Just as people have been saying “thank you, thank you” to us since we joined the Livestrong Challenge, we feel the same and thank you for this experience. With love, Robin and Chris
  3. Lance Says:
    Dan, I’m so happy for Sandy…Not only has she refused to stop short , she has chosen…willed herself to the finish, and met the line with strength and determination to make it her crowning moment of glory! Whom else can claim such victory? I’m so happy for you both. Thank you Dan..~Lance
  4. Lance Young Says:
    Oops! I failed to identify myself above as one whom champions small children in Orondo rather than the crusher of L’Alpe de Huez! You and Sandy continue to be in the forefront of our thoughts and prayers. ~Lance (Young)
  5. Shirl Says:
    Sandy & Dan, thank you for making my life richer. Thank you for showing me that when it’s my turn, I can still be important, can still count, can still love and be loved. Thank you for being my friends. Love, Shirl
  6. jkw Says:
    Dan I am still amazed and astounded by you and Sandy. Your generosity, kindness, and ability to both teach and share this hard and personal journey with us. How incredible the Livestrong Challenge trip was for you both. All made possible with the Love of friends, family, and of course you and Sandy. Thank you. With Love, positive thoughts and prayers. Joanie ;) OXOX
  7. pk Says:
    Hi Sandy and DanO and extended family! Sandy and DanO, you two know that I save writings that touch my heart; that I find inspiration in. Revisiting some that I’ve shared with you in the past and am offering once again … “The last of the human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances - it to choose one’s own way.” ~Victor Frankl “Ya gotta have an attitude of gratitude!” Great art hangs in museums. Great art is heard in concert halls and celebrated in theaters. There is, in addition, a great art that resides within each of us. Henry David Thoreau called it the highest of arts: the art of living. People who practice this art are not artists in the usual sense. They are people who, through the nobility of their lives, have affected what Thoreau called the “quality” of the day. We can affect the quality of the day for ourselves and others … turning dark to light … fear to courage … frustration to patience … loneliness to joy. Our words are music just as surely as our lives paint a picture. From our hearts, through our words and actions, we create the beauty of kindness, patience, harmony, and hope. When I see some one engaged in an act of kindness, I am watching a great artist creating a masterpiece, affecting the quality of the day for everyone. ~Catherine Feste To my “Friends of Sandy” team mates that I was gifted in joining this past weekend, THANK YOU so very much for affecting the quality of the day. To the family members and special friends that were there as our support crew, THANK YOU so very much for affecting the quality of the day. To the LAF crew who went above and beyond the call of duty to make a dream come true, THANK YOU so very much for affecting the quality of the day. To the many other participants of the LIVESTRONG Challenge who opened their hearts, so generously shared their stories, and so eagerly joined in the living day, THANK YOU so very much for affecting the quality of the day. To Sandy and Dan, I want to THANK YOU both from the bottom of my heart for affecting so beautifully the quality of my day, the quality of my life. You two are master artists, and your sharing of yourselves is such an amazing gift that you offer to all of us. Thank you for your love, your example of how to truly live, and your gift of friendship. With love, Patty
  8. Caryn O'Connor Says:
    Sandy and Dan…. Megan, Gaylon and I had dinner with Kelsey and Chris (Dan’s neice and nephew) tonight, then we took them bowling. It was a nice time, but we had you in our thoughts constantly. Am so glad to hear that Sandy did wake up a couple of times after hearing from mom that she was in a coma-like state. Something I heard about just today that I don’t think a lot of people knew is that the Portland Livestrong Challenge was originally going to happen in Sept., but was rescheduled for July 30th. That is a blessing in disguise! We have some photos that we took and some from Leslie on our website which is: http://mybeaglerules.com/ Take care, and livestrong….Caryn & Megan!
  9. inspired Says:
    Doubt sees the obstacles Faith sees the way Doubt sees the darkest night Faith sees the day Doubt dreads to take a step Faith soars on high. Doubt questions ‘who believes?’ Faith answers, ‘I.’
  10. D2 Says:
    Dearest Sandy & Dan, Don and I were honored to be a part of the team this past weekend. You have touched our lives at so many levels…this weekend gave us a chance to Thank You for that. Don and I have looked at the movies and photos from this weekend several times and are overwhelmed with love, joy, laughter and tears each time. It was an amazing event to be a part of! Thanks to you both for setting the example of how everyone should live their lives. All our Love, Deb & Don (D2)
  11. Leslie Brown Says:
    Dan, you must write this book! You are an incredible writer and Sandy & your story is truly an inspiration to all. I can tell you that this weekend was one I will never forget and that has changed me for the better. What a great gift you and Sandy have given all of us - knowing you!! The team was amazing and we became connected forever because of you and Sandy. I can’t think of a better group of people to be by your side in this journey called life. My love, good thoughts, prayers are with you! Leslie
  12. Kellee Says:
    OMG that’s awesome. What an amazing story. The culmination of so much hard work, sweat and tears. What a finish line!!! See Sandy? Everyone sees your light, and it’s always going to shine. We’re the lucky ones to have been touched by you….and Lance knows it too. Love, Kellee
  13. Millie Says:
    Thank you so much for sharing the journey with those of us who couldn’t be there in Portland. We are sharing the pictures of Sandy with Lance Armstrong at the school. We continue to be inspired by the courage and determination both of you have shown. Sandy’s story is indeed a story of a strong and confident finish.
  14. Kelly Hassinger Says:
    Been thinking hard on you two. I visited the photos on Caryn’s website. Glad to see them and you…I miss you guys. With you in spirit. Keep hugging each other and I hope you keep writing. Love, Kelly.
  15. Janet Says:
    Sandy ,You are the winner of all winners.Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us .All of us who have been lucky enough to know you personally are much better people because of you and your examples. Thanks for all the lessons you have taught me. You have been an inspiration time and time again. Love,Janet
  16. Fred Carani Says:
    Remarkable…remarkable story and events. Along with the inevitable sadness and grief as the finish line approaches there is also an overiding gratitude and appreciation of a life so well lived with its accomplishments, inspirations and long lasting impacts.
  17. heather Says:
    Just a simple LOVE note to you Sandy, Dan, Cam and family. May your today be of peace and love. Your friends Heather & Pat (and Clover barky bark bark & Prunie meow)
  18. Caryn O\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Says:
    I literally have no adequate words so will quote from John Powell, S.J. “You have a unique message to deliver; a unique song to sing; a unique act of love to bestow. This message, this song, and this act of love have been entrusted exclusively to the one and only you.” And this applies to both Sandy and Dan who have shown us the way to walk the path. Much love and admiration from Mom in Waldport.
  19. Susan Morey Says:
    Dan, thank you for sharing your experience at the LiveStrong Challenge. I was very pleased to meet you and Sandy at the Challenge. Your family is so inspiring and motivating - thank you. I am praying for all of you. Love, Susan
  20. mary pat Says:
    Dear Sandy, Dan and Cam,: Our Family just wants to send out our hugs, our tears,our prayers, and our thanks for sharing your families with our family and so many other families during this very private of times . What special and compassionate people you all are. Sandy’s caring spirit and special gift of teaching has reached so many people on all types of levels and emotions. Helping others to take life’s journey fully engaged and connected to others. We are never alone or forgotten - We are one family. Love mary pat and family.
  21. Anonymous Says:
    Dear Sandy,Dan, and Cam, Such a powerful message you have shared with all of us. Reading this only reinforces the love, compassion, honesty, determination, and passion that eminates from the three of you. Special tenderness and strength to Sandy as she takes this journey alone and yet with all of us. love to you all….Mary Lou
  22. Brandon Dorn-3rd grade Says:
    Mrs.Beardsley,I love you so much. you and Mrs.Hoofnagle are the best Teacher’s in the WORLD. I just wanted to write and tell you how much I love you and how much you mean to me. I am going to montana on the 12 on my grandpas harley for 10 days. I’m going to work harder in 4th grade and try harder to turn in my work on time. I’m going to be in Mrs. Roys class with Jeorge and i’m going to help him concentrate more. I miss you so much. Love Brandon
  23. Susie Says:
    Sandy, Dan, friends and family, I just wanted to share some of my favorite photos from
  24. Susie Says:
    Oops I didn’t finish…. our amazing weekend. I am forever changed. Susie http:www.cv.riverview.wednet.edu/staff/Archuleta/Welcome.htm
  25. Paige Says:
    You ALL embody the saying “Life is NOT a spectators sport”. You are awesome and awe inspiring………….THANKS!
  26. Susie Says:
    Hopefully this works. If not I’m sorry. Love, Susie http://www.cv.riverview.wednet.edu/staff/Archuleta/Welcome.htm
  27. Barb Kelly Says:
    Dear Sandy and Dan, Thank-you and all of the Friends of Sandy team and all the supporters for such an amazing weekend. It was one of those very special times and I’ll never forget it. It was my most favorite bike event ever. I’ve been telling people that it was neat to see Lance Armstrong, but that Sandy Beardsley was my star of the day, the most joyful, courageous woman there. What a gift and light you are to all of us. We will be there to ride it with Dan next year. Love, Barb
  28. Susie Archuleta Says:
    …Well here is the rest of my message… some favorite photos of our amazing experience with Sandy as she continues on her journey. Love to all. Susie http://www.cv.riverview.wednet.edu/staff/Archuleta/Welcome.htm
  29. Miller Batson Says:
    Sandy, you are right, I’d make a lousy bartender. But if I could do it again, I would be more careful stocking Bertha. No more tincture of Echinacea, no more watered down fruit drinks. So the conversation went at 3 AM, DanO and Mary L finally catching some Z’s. It took us 19 hours to lumber home after an exhausting yet exhilarating time in Portland. But we made it in one piece with many fine memories. Memories of what it takes to fight for one’s life, and to stand for a cause. Thank you Sandy for your courage and personal example. I see on this page a picture of Lance Armstrong looking up to you and thanking you too. Thanking you for showing all of us how one can live every minute of her life with every ounce of her being. I am forever grateful and honored to have been chosen to be on the Team, and to be a Friend of Sandy. Miller, Barbara and the boys. P.S. Here is our favorite of you and Dan. http://webpages.charter.net/mbatson4128/batsonhomepage.htm
  30. Tracy Ismert Says:
    Dear Dan & Sandy and family, I could hardly read this for the tears. I am so honoured that I met you at the NBTF walk, if only for a few hundred feet, I felt a bond that I will always remember and feel. Thanksyou for sharing your journey ans passion for life. My love always, Tracy ( Burlingame CA)
  31. Susie &Vladimir Says:
    No words can better express our thoughts and feelings than those above from all your friends and teammates. Know we are there with you at the finish line and beyond. All of our love, Susie & Vlad

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