Remembering Heather Foster
A beautiful, vibrant, young mother has left us. Heather Foster died Saturday night, June 2nd, after a very quick battle with lung cancer.
I first met Heather after she and her husband Brian lost their son, Jake. Jake was a healthy baby, but right before he was supposed to be delivered, he got tangled up in his umbilical cord. I was doing a story on an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, and thanks to volunteer photographer Bill Garmon, we did a beautiful story on the Fosters and this wonderful organization.
[Watch the first story I did with the Fosters on Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep]
About a year later, I was so happy to learn Heather became pregnant again. But I was devastated to find out she also had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She was not a smoker. She never had been.
Heather and Brian agreed to do another story with me. I could tell she was already in a lot of pain.
One thing that stuck with me was the way she was diagnosed. Heather told me she had a cough. And because she was a healthy, young, non-smoker, doctors at first thought she had pneumonia. A spot showed up on her x-ray, but doctors didn't even consider cancer.
Still, her coughing continued. In fact, she ended up coughing up a small piece of her tumor. When she brought it to her doctor, he knew right away.
She asked, "It's cancer...or what?"
Doctors told Heather that lung cancer can go undetected for quite some time. When doctors found Heather's cancer, it was already spreading to other parts of her body.
My second interview with Heather was on Valentine's Day. I remember feeling terrible for crowding in on them, but they wanted to talk because they weren't sure when they'd get to do it again. Brian called their relationship "perfect" that night - saying she was his best friend... and that now they felt they couldn't waste any time together. Though their days were hard, they were finding new hope in fighting together.
During our interview, Heather told me she was having some pain. She actually downplayed it. But what happened was this - after our interview, she and Brian went to the emergency room. And though she wanted to carry her baby for a few more weeks, doctors ended up taking Elizabeth Rae just a few days later.
It was hard to keep up with the Fosters after that. I signed up to bring meals to their homes, thanks to a meal train, but since they were up in Raleigh so much for treatment, my day ended up getting canceled.
I saw the Fosters just two weeks ago at a prayer vigil. Heather was hopeful, but she started crying a bit as she told me how scared she was that God might have a different plan for her than what she had hoped. She was in a lot of pain and was down to 115 pounds or less. I hugged her, told her I loved her, and that I would be praying for her.
In many ways, our prayers were answered. Heather is no longer in pain, and no longer scared. Throughout this ordeal, she never lost faith in God. She kept telling people that God could heal her. She started becoming a beacon of light for so many people who had never met her. Her Facebook prayer group exploded with messages from strangers who told her how much she impacted their lives.
I wish I would have never met Heather under the circumstances in which I did. But yet, her life had purpose and meaning to her loved ones, the community, and me.
The one thing I'll take with me and want to share with you is to be an advocate for your own health. I will carry Heather's experience with me for the rest of my life. And, I will share her story with other people as well.
I don't ask people to pray very often. But if you do pray, please say a few prayers for the Foster family. They will need peace, and not just for today or the next few weeks. I couldn't think of a family more deserving.
6/2/2012 05:55:32 pm
How sad. My heart goes out to the husband and family.
6/2/2012 07:32:05 pm
Praying for the family and for you...I hear your pain....but just remember...."She has gone Home to be with our Father and Jesus Christ"
6/2/2012 10:02:32 pm
How sad and ironic that she died exactly 2 months after my niece also a Heather died at 46 after a 3 week battle with a fast moving cancer. My heart goes out the family.
6/2/2012 10:27:41 pm
Beautiful! Heather was indeed a inspiration to many.
6/2/2012 11:10:14 pm
such a sad story, just heartbreaking. and to think of the father and his son who have been thru so much, now caring for a baby without his wife...it's just too much to imagine. they sound like a very strong family, hoping that they are able to get thru each day, and enjoy the blessings they have, even though they will miss heather terribly...
6/3/2012 12:06:48 am
6/3/2012 12:16:27 am
What a kind story. Thank you for sharing not only her experience but yours.
6/3/2012 01:46:20 am
Michelle, you did a beautiful job with your story. I am so proud of your taking the initiative to go beyond your job as a journalist to show your very human and empathetic side. Your story touched me and made me cry, but I stand by what I said before that we must rejoice in the fact that Heather has received the ultimate healing and now walks the streets of gold preparing to reunite with her beautiful family and wonderful friends again one day. Thanks for caring and sharing.
Jo Ann Bratton
6/5/2012 11:45:18 am
I am so moved by this story. My heart hurts for The Foster Family but I rejoice is the complete ultimate healing of Heather which is promised to all of us who are in Christ. God has a plan for those left behind and He will never leave or forsake them. I use to think that sounded good if you were the one saying it to someone who was devastated by an untimely death. Until, it happended to our family. God allows us to "go through these things' so that we may be a comfort and consolation to those coming behind us. It is God, in the flesh who comforts and heals broken hearts. He uses family, friends and even strangers to help put lives back together. His plan will be revealed, one day at a time, in His way and His timing. I will certainly be remembering the Foster Family and other families who are challenged with sickness and disease and death. God is faithful.
6/3/2012 05:49:48 am
Heather's story has truly inspired my life. Praying for God's comfort for her husband, her babies and all of her family and friends.
6/3/2012 07:06:21 am
Thank you for sharing this amazing story with us. Her story will be a testimony to many. I pray for her family and know that God will wrap them in His tender arms and will comfort them.
6/3/2012 11:24:01 am
Would u like to share her story and video June 16th & Landfall for Lung Cancer Partnership? Kaycey Helmold 919-247-6672
6/3/2012 11:56:03 am
My heart breaks for them. I will definitely pray for this family.
6/4/2012 01:50:25 am
I have the Foster Family in prayer. Cancer also has touched our family, so we understand he hurt and confusion. God be with you all.
6/4/2012 02:48:54 am
Such a moving story. Thank you for sharing it with us. Heather has been and will continue to be an inspiration to me as well as others. Her Faith, Courage, Love, and totally depending on her lord and Savior no matter what her outcome. She never wavered .She stood firm on the Rock of her Salvation. There is where she(we) draw our Strength. There is no other that can give us Strength and Joy in the middle of such a trial. It was not just a trial of fighting for her life but also one of the heart. To be torn into pieces .yet still give her (ALL) to God and say whatever your will is Lord not mine but thine will be done. She is in Heaven now in the arms of her Father that she trusted with her all!!! Our Lord and Savior gave His all on Calvary for who so ever will. Heather gave her all in her battle. But in the end..she has Victory!!!RIP Heather and know that you will always remain in the hearts of many.
6/4/2012 04:23:31 am
Will be praying for this family my heart breaks for them but i know the lord will do everything in his power to watch over the,
6/4/2012 06:19:41 am
I just read Heather's story and just wept. I know God needed another Angel in heaven and Heather is not in any pain now. I will continue to pray for the Foster family. Mr Foster and his two children that he is left to raise. I pray you daily feel God's arms around you and His strength in a mighty way! Cherish the memories and time you had together. I pray that God will put the people in your life that you will need to help you and don't never hesitate to ask for help and never be ashamed to cry. Love In Christ:)
6/5/2012 02:40:42 am
Iam so happy for Heather knowing that she is with Jake, her father, niece & nephew & other family & friends who have gone on to be with the Lord. My heart continues to break for her mother,Sue, her sister Christy, her husband, Brian, her children, Elizabeth and Matthew and her amazing in-laws. God bless all of you.
6/6/2012 01:41:58 am
Praying for this family knowing God is in control. Her healing came thou not the way we wanted but God had a purpose in mind. May he wrap his arms around you and carry you when you feel you can't go any further.
7/24/2012 05:58:02 pm
This is really very sad story, I read your whole article and I can't imagine what the pain she have to bare in this stage. May god gave her power to live longer.
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