My name is Linda Edwards, I was 45 years old when I met Brad. I had been divorced for 2 years from a 25 year marriage. I was very independent, I owned my own home, took care of my 14 year old son, Harley, and two cocker spaniels, Winnie and Angel. I had a 24 year career at the American Red Cross as a Supervisor/Phlebotomist in the Apheresis department and life was good…except for my love relationship. I was in a very toxic relationship with a man who was a true narcissist and I knew I had to end it soon but every time I would pull away he would entice me back in. On January 2012, I decided to go on Match.com. I figured if I could only find someone who I really liked I could finally end that bad relationship. I always believed the only way to get over someone was to find someone else.
Brad was one of the first men who messaged me. He was 43 years old, never been married and had no children. He looked very professional in his profile picture but he didn’t look like my type. To me, he looked stuffy, straight laced and no fun at all. In his message he said he really liked my profile and he wanted to get to know me. I responded by thanking him but I was honest and told him I wasn’t interested. He wanted to know why and I told him I was into bald men who were buff and were kind of a bad boy type. He then agreed that, that wasn’t him. So that was that…So I thought.
Seven months went by and I still hadn’t met anyone who rocked my world. I didn’t have my profile up on Match.com continuously but would go on for a couple of weeks at a time then hide my profile for a month or two and every time I would unhide my profile Brad would message me. I always gave him the same answer…until finally that August, I decided I would give Match.com another try and if I didn’t meet anyone I liked, I was done dating. As soon as I posted my profile, Brad messaged me, “Are you done with those bad boys yet? Are you ready to meet me?” he asked. I laughed out loud, this guy is pretty persistent! What have I got to lose? I finally said, Yes!
“Never judge a book by it’s cover”, I’ve heard that a million times and I was so wrong about Brad! I found out he was everything I had been looking for. He was very engaging, never talking about himself unless you asked, he was always interested in whomever he was talking to, like they really mattered to him. He had A LOT of friends, friends he knew for years, as he was born and raised here in Tucson. He came from a small family with just his mom and one sister but he more than made up for it in friends. As for the way he was with me…He treated me like I’ve never been treated before, like he cherished me and everything I said and did was amazing to him. Even when I accidentally passed gas, he would giggle and thought it was cute! He didn’t hold anything back, he was very affectionate, he couldn’t keep his hands off of me, which I loved. The profile picture he used didn’t do him justice at all! He lived his life in a very carefree way, not sweating the small stuff and I found out later that he was a bit of a bad boy…but in a good and exciting way. It didn’t take long, in just a few weeks we were madly in-love. Never in my life had I felt so crazy about someone who was also so crazy about me, at the same time! He made me feel so loved, safe and secure. We did so many fun things together, we were inseparable!
Life was so good, we had our whole future ahead of us! However, there was a small voice inside my head that warned me that life has a way of not allowing a person to be this happy for too long. My mother was Filipino and she always would hush us whenever we would laugh too loud or had too much fun. She was very superstitious and the message I got was, we needed to tame our happiness because life might see it and destroy it.
My mother had been right, three months later, our whole world came crashing down on us, Brad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He was so young, how could this be? It was all out of our hands, there was nothing we could do but wait and see. We clung to each other but we also had a huge support system. One of his best friends mom was his primary care physician, so she was able to use her influence to get things happening quickly. His main Oncologists gave us hope, they were treating him for a “Cure”. In December 2012 Brad started his Chemo and Radiation Therapy On one of his radiation visits, we saw the radiation oncologist and she was what Brad called a ” Dr. Debbie Downer”. She told Brad that there was a shadow on his top right chest just under the collar bone and it’s possible that the cancer had metastasized and if that was so, they wouldn’t be doing the esophagectomy, they would just keep him “comfortable”. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing because his regular oncologist, the one doing his surgery, gave us all so much hope. That doctor was sure it didn’t metastasize. Even so, we left that office deflated, we were both in shock! It was then that I knew we had a long battle ahead of us, I wanted nothing more than to be with Brad and take care of him. I knew he would never ask me to marry him, not while he had cancer, so I asked him, right then and there. He broke down in tears. He sobbed and told me he didn’t want to put me through so much and he didn’t want to make me a widow. I told him that I have never loved anyone the way I love him and I wanted to take care of him, to be by his side no matter what happens. So on January 4, 2013, we went to the court house and got married!
Brad got very ill from his treatments and it was tough towards the end. He could no longer drive himself to the hospital, I continued to work because I needed to save my vacation time for when he had his surgery, but with the help of his mom, sister and friends, he got through it. The chemo and radiation worked, the cancer had disappeared and could no longer be detected on scans. This was great news! In early March, Brad had his esophagectomy. It was brutal but he made it through with flying colors. He was a star patient and in 10 days he was able to go home. He lost a lot of weight as he only had about a quarter of his stomach left, they had refashioned a part of his stomach to be his esophagus, it was really quite amazing what they can do. We were assured that in time Brad would be back to normal, that his stomach would stretch and he would gain some of his weight back.
On the third month after the surgery, Brad had another PET Scan to make sure he was cancer free. It came out negative, no cancer! Life had somewhat turned back to normal. Brad got a new job, his dream job, He was a rep for BioHorizon, selling Dental Implants. He looked great, all was well and we were very happy.
At about 6 months after his surgery, just before he was due to get another PET scan, Brad woke me up at about 3am. He had found a hard knot just above his right collar bone. That was not good. I told him maybe it’s just scar tissue or something, that we shouldn’t freak out. He quickly gave each of us a Lorazapam, so we wouldn’t be anxious and we could go back to sleep. A few days later we found out that the cancer had metastasized. Dr, Debbie Downer was right. His prognosis wasn’t good, we were told he had maybe two to five years to live with chemo and radiation. There was no cure, the chemo given every three weeks, was just to prolonge his life. We couldn’t accept that. Brad had such a hard time the first time he went through those treatments and he didn’t want to go through it again. What kind of quality of life would he have if he was sick all the time? I knew there had to be an alternative. I remembered my former pastor had metastatic cancer in the throat. He refused conventional treatment and with the help of his wife, they went on the Hallelujah Diet. It’s a raw vegan diet with lots of carrot juice and supplements. After awhile, he was cancer free and to this day he is still alive and well. I called June, the pastor’s wife, and she came over that night to tell us about the diet. We invited Brad’s mom, sister, his best friends and their wives over to hear what she had to say. This was not a decision to make on our own, everyone’s support and understanding was needed.
For the next three months Brad lived on carrot juice and salad. He had lost more weight but he looked great. He said he’s never felt so healthy in his life. Then someone told him about an immunotherapy called GcMAF, a vitamin D-binding protein-derived macrophage activating factor. It was a new cancer treatment that was based in England and they were opening a treatment center in Switzerland. We did some research and decided it was worth trying, it sounded very promising. The knot above his collar bone had grown quite a bit, about the size of a big marble and also his tumor markers kept increasing. We knew we had to do something more than just carrot juice. Brad’s sister started an online fundraiser for us and we received so much support from family and friends, even from people we didn’t even know. His High School graduating class surprised us with a party and a big donation. We were humbled and overwhelmed with emotion knowing so many people loved and cared for Brad. By mid December we were on our way. We arrived in Switzerland three days before treatment was supposed to start at the clinic, which was recommended so as to recover from jet lag. We took this opportunity to explore and do a bit of sight seeing. The language barrier was tough for us as everyone spoke French and little English but somehow, we managed. We really enjoy exploring the city, Lausanne. The hotel we stayed at provided us with free metro tickets and we went all over the place. We even took a train to the Swiss Alps up to Gstaad, a ski resort.
The treatment was a for five days and each day a large dose of GcMAF was injected right next to his tumor by way of ultrasound. By the time we left, the tumor had shrunk by about 25%. We were to continue with the shots when we got home intravenously. It helped that I was a Phlebotomist, so that was not a problem. The doctor put Brad on a Paleo diet, which we were thrilled as we really missed meat! He also recommended that Brad have radiation on the tumor to shrink it further but at that time we were so against any traditional treatment that it was not even being entertained. We returned back home just before Christmas.
We were very encouraged by his treatments that we were doing at home, Brad continued to work at his new job and he was doing very well at it. The tumor seemed to be staying the same size, not increasing or decreasing but it was still there. By March 2014, Brad decided to get radiation treatment on it and while he was going through that treatment he started to have a lot of pain on his hip. We found out the cancer had metastasized there as well. Not only was it there but it was also all over his lungs, little pea sized scattered around. We hadn’t given up hope on the GcMAF as his tumor markers were holding steady and we were still hopeful. Brad continued his radiation treatments on the tumor and also, on his hip to get rid of the pain. By mid April, Brad was so ill from his treatments and he was emaciated because he had no appetite and was nauseous all the time. I was so fearful he was on the decline. The doctors were talking hospice already but we refused to give in. We still had some fight in us. I say us because whatever happened to my husband, happened to me. I was with him at every step of the way, I may not have suffered his physical pain but I suffered with him in every other way. I was his personal care giver and I did it with my whole heart and soul, it was my privilege to be able to perform this labor of love for him.
Brad was getting worse and worse that I became desperate. I was not ready to lose my husband, I wasn’t ready to give up. His sister and I started researching other Natural treatment centers, it was obvious that he couldn’t handle traditional treatment as it was killing him. We found An Oasis of Healing in Mesa, Arizona. Once again, family and friends pooled money together as insurance didn’t cover this type of treatment, it wasn’t FDA approved. Brad had a friend, Shannon, who owned a home, a mansion really, in Paradise Valley where no one at the time was staying at, she so generously allowed us to stay there, including our four dogs, during the 4 weeks of treatment, we were so blessed!
It was early May when Brad started his treatments at Oasis of Healing, he weighed 114 pounds, he was weak and in a lot of pain. They didn’t waste any time, they started him on his treatments right away. They did high dose Vit. C therapy, B17, Low dose chemo, Ultraviolet, etc… the list goes on. In just a couple of days Brad was pain free. While he was in treatment which was all day, I would go to food preparation classes. The diet was Raw Vegan. The recipes they had were amazing. Amazing but a lot of work! Brad got better and better, his tumor markers went from 8,000 plus down to around 600. He was gaining back some weight and throughout all this he continued to work. His employer was very accomodating but they also didn’t know how ill he was or the severity of his disease. Since the treatment center was in Phoenix, and Phoenix was part of Brad’s territory, I would drive him around to the different dental clinics that used his implants. There were times he was still so weak that once we got there, he would have to collect his bearings, put a smile on his face and go in. Once he returned to the car, he would plop down and have to rest for a bit. I had told him several times that if he felt he couldn’t work anymore to just quit, we would make it somehow. He refused to give in, he said this was his dream job and he was going to get better, he was going to beat cancer!
After 4 weeks of treatment at An Oasis of Healing, in June 2014, we finally got to go back home. We had our work cut out for us as the diet was all consuming plus we had coffee enemas twice a day to do and getting all the hundreds of supplements ready. Brad’s mom and sister helped us out a lot. Juicing was a big chore so his mom took over and every several days she would deliver fresh juice to us, it was so greatly appreciated. Brad started working out at a gym and also started cycling. There were times I would tell Brad that he needed to slow down, that maybe he was taking on too much…but he kept on going.
As for me, during all this time, my heart ached. I didn’t know how long I would have my husband for, I would always tell myself to let tomorrow worry about itself, he wasn’t going to die today. Not today. Throughout all this our love just got stronger and stronger. I think it’s the reason why I didn’t lose my mind. Whenever I was with Brad all I felt was love radiating from my heart that covered the space around us and I rested in that, it shielded me from a lot of worry and heartache that resided deep in my heart. I would lay next to him, feel the warmth of his body next to mine and I would wonder, how long will I get to touch him? How long do I have left to feel his love like this? I wanted to bottle it all up…If only I could…then I would remind myself…he’s not going to die today…not today. Brad and I were always touching while we slept, we always slept in each others arms or at least were holding hands. Whenever one of us would wake up in the middle of the night the other would wake up as well, then we would kiss the sweetest kiss and I would say, “I love you” and he would say, “I love you too, you’re my Baby”then we’d kiss again. I wasn’t very religious at this time, I had been, years back, but I prayed to God…Oh how I prayed! This was bigger than I, bigger than any of us but it wasn’t bigger than God and I needed to put my trust in Him. Everyday, driving to work, early in the mornings, I would sob. My car was the only place I felt safe to release my tears, my fears and my heart ache. I didn’t want to cry in front of Brad because then he would cry too. It would be like giving in and I needed to be brave with him.
The middle of July Brad was very busy. He was working, going to the gym, cycling, taking our new American Bulldog puppy, Lulu, to obedience training and also he was doing things around the house. He put in a security door, security cameras around the inside and outside of the house and also he got a security company to monitor it all. I wondered why suddenly he felt the need to do all this. He started talking about death, where he would want his ashes scattered, how he wanted me to date again, how he worried about me and if I could take care of myself and Harley. I didn’t stop him from talking about these things, I felt it was important as well so I could hear what his wishes were, just in case. I assured him that we’ll be okay, I reminded him that I took care of us before I met him. Also, he was a little afraid of death, and why would God allow him to go through all this if he was just going to die. I told him God wasn’t threatened by death and that death as we know it isn’t the end. God will take you and keep you safe until we meet again. He looked at me and smiled, what I said seemed to have brought him peace.
In early August 2014 Brad started having severe migraines, he was wobbly when he walked and he would drop things. At first he could get a shot of Imitrex and it would help but by Monday, August 4th, nothing was helping, so I brought him to the emergency room. They ran a head scan but everything came out normal and we were rejoicing because one of Brad’s biggest fear was that the cancer would go to his brain. We spent almost all night at the hospital but I had to go home and feed our dogs. Brad was pain free at this time and seemed to be okay. At 8am, August 5th, I was getting ready to go back to the hospital when I got a text from him asking me to please hurry and come to the hospital. When I arrived one of his best friends, Barry and his wife, Joy, were in the waiting room and Brad’s mom was coming out of the ward, she looked very upset and was crying. I started to panic but Joy, took me by the hand and brought me to Brad’s room. Brad looked at me and he was very, very sad. He couldn’t speak. Joy explained to me that the first time the scan was looked at, it was by a resident but when the Neurologist took a look at it, he saw something suspicious so they took more scans and it turned out that the cancer had spread to Brad’s brain. During the night, while Brad was all alone, a resident came into his room, one that was specializing in neurology and Brad asked him, point blank how long he had to live and the doctor told him 3 to 4 days.
I ran into Brad’s arms and we just wept. He whispered to me that he wanted to fight but he was just too tired…and I told him I was tired too. The next day we went home with hospice. I hated that I wasn’t there when Brad found out the grave news and I swore to myself and to him, that I would never leave his side again. For the next three days our house was packed with family and friends. They were coming from all over the country and Mexico too, to say goodbye. Though I knew we didn’t have long, I didn’t begrudge him time with all these people, they all loved him and it also helped, somehow. But at night, he was all mine. I would hold him and just savor his warmth and his scent. I would watch him sleep and he was so beautiful to me. The night of August 8th, I was having to give him his medication every 2 hours, the pain was getting worse and worst. By about 6am, on the 9th, I woke up and Brad was sound asleep so I went into the other room to have a cup of coffee but I was nearby just in case he woke up. After a little while, I heard him talking, like he was having a conversation with someone, so I went in and when he saw me he told me Barry’s brother came to see him. Well, he hadn’t seen Barry’s brother in years, plus he lived in another state. Then he said he didn’t know if it was him but someone was there. I knew then the time was near. That night Brad’s pain was excruciating, he was in and out of consciousness, one moment he was crying out in pain, the next he was smiling and talking to someone we couldn’t see. At one point in the midst of his crying out he suddenly looked up, smiled and extended his hand up towards the ceiling, like he was going to shake someones hand, then he turned his head to the side and said very softly, “I love her”. His sister and I looked at each other and we smiled.
Brad’s doctor increased his medication, she said the time was near. He was laying in the middle of the bed, in a comatose state, surrounded by his sister, her daughter, his mom and I, we were taking turns giving him his medication by drops under his tongue. By 2am on August 10th, he started gurgling whenever he would breath, I felt that the medicine was pooling in his throat and I didn’t want him to choke so I decided to get up and go to the Walmart that was 5 minutes away to get an aspirator. I was hurrying and got in my car, I tried to go as fast as I could when suddenly, a rush of cold air swept over me then a feeling of such peace filled my whole being. I wondered what this was, it felt so good. I slowed down and took in a breath of fresh air. I actually took my time in Walmart to get the aspirator. When I pulled up to the driveway, John, Brad’s mom’s fiancee, met me at the door. He didn’t say a thing, he just walked me inside and when I got in there, they were all waiting for me the kitchen. His mom took me in her arms and told me about 2 minutes after I left, Brad took one last breath and passed away. My Love, Brad, was gone.