Carole Cepeda’s biopsy was on December 27th, 2012. It was sad Christmas week because of her liver pain, which had started in April of 2012. Carole’s Father, Doug Lightening, flew to visit us in San Antonio on Friday, December 28. He then rented a car and I met him at the Transplant Hospital in the evening. Carole stayed at the hospital for three days. I came up with a surprised plan to have small church service on December 30 for Carole. Mike Taliaferro preached the short sermon and communion. Alyssa interpreted for us. We are very grateful for our best friends, Todd/Gine Paszkowski, who also joined with us. Carole appreciated that I, her husband, planned that small church service for her.
Carole was discharged from the hospital on Sunday, December 30th in the evening. My parents, Doug, Carole and I met with the doctor on January 5, 2013, when we received the bad news that Carole was diagnosed with Angiosarcoma (rare liver cancer) and was given 6 months to live. Our family was shocked and cried about this news. She feared dying.
Megan Oberholster, Carole’s sister, flew to San Antonio from Canada on Thursday, January 10th, and stayed over my parent’s house. Carole made decision to move to Megan’s house in Oakville, Ontario in Canada on Saturday, January 12th. She had two reasons for her move to Canada: she wanted to be closer to her family and to live there for 3 months to receive her Ontario Health Insurance. Carole’s Mother, Daphne Renton, flew to Oakville to stay temporarily with her daughter to take care of her terminal illness. I was sad that I was unprepared for this move and could not quit my job immediately because I needed to keep my health insurance to support my wife. I prayed daily and sought advice from disciples about this tough situation. I had a meeting with my employer to request for FMLA but this plan was unsuccessful since my company is so small. My employer allowed me to take off one week unpaid so I could fly back and forth to take care of my wife’s terminal illness. I was concerned that if I continued to work and Carole didn’t survive, I’d regret missing the opportunity to be by her side at the end of her life.
I flew to visit Carole for one week on January 25th-February 1st. I was happy to celebrated Carole’s 43rd birthday on Monday, January 28th. On Sunday, February 10th, I created Carole’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CaroleCepeda to encourage our family in Christ and friends to read her posts. I typed weekly updates about the status of Carole’s health and how I was doing during our difficult times. Many times our family in Christ expressed how much they would love to chat with Carole on FaceTime or Skype but Carole didn’t have energy to chat with many friends. Carole was able to chat with her friends for short periods of times. My goal was to setup fundraising because we need strong support from our friends to raise funds for our monthly income and Carole’s medical bills. We appreciate that the International Church of Christ (ICOC) has been praying for us daily. Sunil Punjabi and I had meeting on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 after our men’s midweek and he advised me to resign from my job immediately and move ASAP to Canada because I needed to be with Carole. My church paid for our health insurance for two months. Amen! God made it clear that I should resign, and on February 16, 2013, I resigned my full-time position as Assistant Office Manager at the Little Texans Pediatrics. I surrendered my job to make my priority to be with Carole. My vehicle stayed in San Antonio, TX. My family in Canada provided transportation for me.
For the months of March and April, Occupational Therapy was provided at no cost for Carole. Carole’s doctor visited Megan’s house every week to prescribe medications for Carole’s liver pain. I remembered she told me and encouraged me to be happy when she passed away. Carole and her sister Megan talked about Heaven. Carole was praying daily to become fearless and preparing to go to Heaven before she died. She told her sister before she died that she desired to see her brother, Caleb, and her Dad who lived in South Africa. Carole spoke of how she was ready to go to Heaven and did not fear it at all. Carole persuaded me to visit San Antonio for couple of weeks but I was very concerned that her health would decline quickky. I decided to visit my parents in San Antonio for two weeks on April 23. Our best friend from Los Angeles, Christine Rushing, flew for the short visit to spend time with Carole on April 26-April 30. I called my mother-in-law, Daphne, on Saturday, April 27th and received the bad news that Carole’s was expected to die very soon. I felt stressed and terrible about this sad situation. I had planned on attending the TX Statewide church service in Belton on April 30 and hosting the 1st Anniversary Deaf Open-Caption Movie (DOCM) event on May 4 but had to put those on the side and caught an emergency flight on Sunday, April 28 to be with Carole for the last week of her life. I arrived to see Carole at the hospice care on Sunday afternoon. Carole pulled me a tight hug and kissed me. Carole’s last words were, “hugs and kisses.”
Later, Daphne reminded me that Carole want to talk to me. Carole said “I want hugs and kisses,” so I gave her twice the amount of hugs and kisses. Caleb and her Dad arrived on April 30 to spend time with Carole. She was very happy to see Caleb & Dad for the last time. Carole was super encouraged to watch the DVD of special songs in American Sign Language (ASL) from the Los Angeles Deaf Ministry family. She was part of the LA Deaf Ministry team for 6 years from 1995-2001. On Wednesday, May 1, Carole’s body is about to shut down and she wasn’t able to communicate any more. She could only breathe. Daphne & I held Carole’s hands as we prayed, and we were there for Carole’s last breath at 10:38am Eastern Time on Thursday, May 2, 2013. We cried heavily and felt heartbroken for our loss. Special thanks to the Oberholster family, Daphne, Doug, Mission Point Christian Church, & Deaf Ministry ICOC for supporting me during this difficult time of Carole’s passing.
Joe accomplished four goals before Carole passed away: her last birthday, late Valentine’s Day on Sunday 2-17-13, early 8th Anniversary on 4-16-13 for dinner and dancing to two songs called “My Valentine” by Martha McBride and Salsa music, & to be at side for her last breath. Carole will be always be a part of my life. She was inspiration and impacted the Deaf Ministry around the world. I thank God for giving me a beautiful wife for 7 years. She taught me a special skill of gentleness that I will not be forget. Carole was a disciple for 27 years, gentle and strong spiritual woman. I love her all my heart and am going to miss her. Carole was my best friend in Christ and I am very grateful that she was my special partner in the Deaf Ministry.