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published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Never bitter, always faithful, Hammortree loses cancer fight
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING -- An inspiration to everyone she met and the epitome of a fighter, Lindsey Hammortree lived out her last days smothered in love and affection.
Hammortree, the beautiful young woman who the community came to know in 2010 after she was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, lost a hard-fought battle Monday night.
In the privacy and comfort of her home and under the watchful eye of the entire Hammortree family, Lindsey left this world and began her new journey at 9:30 p.m.
After Lindsey's doctors at the University of Florida Shands Cancer Center began treating her third round of cancer with a pill treatment three months ago, she became frequently ill with colds and fevers. Lindsey was taken to Shands in late November after she discovered new lumps.
Much testing was done during her stay, before Lindsey's lung collapsed. Several liters of blood were drained from Lindsey's lung due to the spread of the cancer from her pelvis and hips to her back and lungs, leaving many tumors in her lungs.
The Hammortree family had been informed by Lindsey's doctors that the 18-year-old had very little time left.
"The doctors there have fallen in love with her. They all loved her. They'd come in to see her and kiss her on the forehead," said Lindsey's older sister, Katlyn. "Her doctor told my mom and me that she only had a week or two left. (My mom) couldn't tell Lindsey. She sort of was beating around the bush and started crying. I stepped in and told her."
Katlyn described her baby sister's last couple of weeks as a time for gratefulness, not bitterness. Before bringing Lindsey home on Saturday, Katlyn and the girls' mother, Faith, spent her last weekend in the hospital planning Lindsey's funeral.
Lindsey made a point to ensure that her service not be a sad one. Among her many final wishes, Lindsey requested her service to be filled with one of her favorite flowers, the sunflower.
"She said to me in the hospital 'I just don't want you guys to be sad,'" Katlyn said.
Lindsey sensed a few weeks ago that her time was short, Katlyn said.
"My mom said that Lindsey said to her 'I feel like I'm living my last days.' We told her no, that she had more fight left, that it wasn't over. But I think she knew. I think that God had been preparing her heart for this and she was aware of that," Katlyn said.
The young woman who quickly became known as an angel to so many in her life was close to God and was a believer. That fact gives Katlyn and the entire Hammortree family peace, knowing that their beautiful girl knows no more pain.
"I'm not angry at God; I'm just not sure why God chose this for me," Lindsey said to her sister and mother last week.
Katlyn stated that Lindsey never once complained that she wouldn't live out her whole life or get married or complete college. Lindsey's focus was fully on those she would be leaving behind.
"I was getting ready to leave the hospital and I went over to her and hugged her goodbye and I said 'I love you' and she said 'I love you more', then I said 'No I love you more' and she smiled and the last thing she said, and I'll never forget it, is 'I love you to the moon and back to the sun and to Saturn to get a drink and see the rings.' That's the last thing I heard her say," Katlyn said.
By the time Lindsey left Gainesville and arrived back in her family's Sebring home, she was unable to speak due to the heavy medications she was receiving. Lindsey's brother, Jim, a paramedic, knew that her body was in a great deal of pain but the meds kept Lindsey from feeling it fully.
"When her body should have been done, she kept fighting," Katlyn said. "I never thought that my little sister would be such an inspiration to me. I didn't know that I'd be looking up to my little sister and learning from her."
The strength and perseverance of the entire Hammortree family is a beautiful piece to their story. Though they have lost a big part of their family in Lindsey, their dedication to her shines brighter than ever.
"My parents are so amazing. My dad asked why his daughter had to leave so soon, but he is at peace and thankful that she is with Jesus. My mom is just amazing. She has not left Lindsey's bedside, not a single time. Not once while she was in the hospital all this time," Katlyn said.
The Hammortree family is very thankful for the outpouring of love, concern and help they have received from the community.
"We are thankful for the community that has come together for us, bringing us food, prayers for everything," Katlyn said. "I think I'm most thankful that we never had to mend anything. Lindsey and I never had to say any 'I'm sorrys' and we got to spend so much special time together and love on her and just be with her at the end. That's the kind of thing most siblings don't get to do in an entire lifetime."
The Hammortree family is especially thankful for the strong friendship of Madison Harris. Harris has been a part of the entire journey and has given Lindsey and her family more than they ever hoped she would.
"She's an angel and Lindsey adored her. She would come to the hospital in Gainesville for five or six hours every day after class. She became that third hand my mom and I started leaning on. She'd bring us food, made sure we ate, help change Lindsey's clothes and sheets; she was such a blessing. Lindsey said to me 'Look at Maddie, look how sad she is. I can't leave Maddie.' They were so close," Katlyn said.
Lindsey leaves behind her parents, Tom and Faith; siblings, Katlyn, Jim and Tom; three nieces, a best friend and countless others touched by her life.
Hammortree's services are slated for Saturday at Grace Bible Church and will be officiated by Pastor Andrew Katsanis. Harris will also speak. The funeral service is open to the public, but burial services will be private. The Hammortree family is currently waiting on the time of the services. Service times will be released as they become available.
Hammortree (by: Stephanie Pirman - 12/16/2012)
Hey guys, if you're reading this. It's Stephanie Pirman, Billy's daughter. I just wanted to say we are so sorry for your loss. Our prayers are with you and we love you. I know last time I saw you guys was 4 years or so ago, I don't remember if Lindsey had any cancer battles yet, but I do remember her, and all of you. We all miss you, so sorry to hear Lindsey passed. <3
BE VIGILANT IN BELIEF (by: Bill Rose - 12/12/2012)
FAITH 'N JOE , EVERY DAY THAT CAN START WITH ONE'S FEET ON THE FLOOR- - - THIS APPLYS TO. EVERYONE ; DAY WILL. FOLLOW. I'VE STILL KEPT YOUR GIRL IN PRAYERS. BESIDES MY PROBLEMS; THAT I KEEP CLOSE. HA-HA LOOK AT YOUR FAMILY AND REALIZE YOU DID GOOD. WE DECIDE EVERY DAY WHAT WE WILL DO THRU THE HOURS OF THAT DAY. WE WILL ARE HAPPY THAT YOU HAD SPENT TIME WITH LINDSY, AND YOUR FAMILY. MEMBERS. K. EEP YOUR HEART IMMERSED IN THE LORD'S PROMISES AND GLAD IN REUNITED WITH OUR DEAR ONES WHEN THE DAY WE WILL MEET CHRIST IN THE. EVEN WITH MY LIMITITATIONS; STILL MISS EVERYONE. I AM HERE WITH MY LOVELY WFE IF HELP IS NEEDED. YOUR FRIENDS--PATRICIA &I'm BILL ROSE 314-0779; 4464549.
Praying for you (by: Glory - 12/12/2012)
What an awesome family! We may not understand why this happened to such a wonderful girl, but I am sure it is comforting to realize what a huge impact Lindsey made during the short time she spent on this earth. She brought light & joy and touched more people's lives than most of us could ever hope to, even if we were given a hundred years. I am thankful that her family has peace and knows that they were blessed to have Lindsey. Thank you for sharing her with the world. Now she is present with the Lord. Trust God and know he has a plan for us all.
Lindz (by: Chris - 12/12/2012)
My Lindz, How we all loved you and all were blessed to have you in our lives. My Lindz will always be with me and everyone. Rest in piece my Lindz <3
Lindsey (by: Child of God - 12/12/2012)
I am not sure why God took you at such a young age but what I do know is that he is a loving God and he loves you so much that he wanted you as one of his many angels to look out for all of us left behind.God Bless you and your sweet family and friends that took care of you. You are all in our prayers.
Lindsey (by: Al P. - 12/12/2012)
Lindsey, there is an special place waiting for you in Heaven .
Hammortree (by: starr - 12/12/2012)
May God continue to bring peace to this family and continue to hold them closely in their time of grief. My prayers are with this family. God Bless you all.
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