Bill & Sandy Fifield Artist - Authors - Speakers

A Gift Wrapped in Barbed Wire

It started out as a weird god’s-eye shaped floater in the left of my field of vision and turned into a brain tumor and lung cancer in a mere three days.  I had gone to my doctor, who referred me to an eye specialist to find out where this irritating thing came from.   Next he’s shining a very bright light into my right eye “Lookup, look down, look side to side” he asks. Then he says, “My, my, the viscous has pulled away from the orb, collapsing with the mesh that holds it.  What you are seeing is the mesh becoming visible as it contracts—in other words, a floater” I ask, “What can we do about that? It’s right in the middle of where I look, kind of an inconvenience for an artist.” The good doc replies, “Well you are lucky it didn’t pull the cornea off with it or you would be blind. It could go away in three days or it could take three months to float to the bottom of your eye.”    Good grief, he sounded like the phone repair guy: “Stay by your phone and we will be there sometime this year!”

One week later I wake up with a hole in my vision.  Things to the left are just not there.  This will not do, I have a big woodcarving commission to finish, so I just ignored it and forced myself to see.  If I used magnifying glasses, I could see around the hole. Fortunately the pose and main gesture of the piece was finished because I couldn’t see the whole thing at once.  I could work on it for three to  four hours a day but the price was a bad headache.  I finished the detail, painting and delivery of the carving. What an adventure!

It’s been three weeks since my first visit, maybe I should go back to the doctor,  this is getting worse, not better.  Next the eye doc does a peripheral vision test where he discovers that I have lost over half my field of vision.  Great!  Now he says that there is nothing wrong with my eyes so there are only two other things that could have caused this–either a brain tumor or a stroke.   I wondered; “Is there third option?”    He wants me to have an MRI but it’s not an emergency so we may have to wait up to 72 hours for approval from your insurance company.  The next day, it’s worse and Sandy and I are thinking, I’m an artist and I’m going blind, isn’t this an emergency?   After a bombshell like this, we wanted to find out as soon as possible what was going on.  We went to the hospital emergency room where many others thought this was an emergency as well.

 Since we’ve been in recovery for nineteen years, Sandy and I knew that this wasn’t about us, we knew this was a gift, a gift wrapped in barbed wire–we were just not sure exactly how yet.   We all know about waiting in emergency rooms; we got there at noon and I was on my way to the MRI by about 4:30 pm.  We brought a whole pile of spiritual principles cards with us and handed them to everyone we encountered. The cards reminded us to be the gift.   The MRI is a truly intense ordeal but turned into a just as intense meditation. The MRI showed I had two brain tumors and I was admitted into the hospital that night.   During the PET scan the next morning I was suddenly transformed into an overwhelming sense of peace, gratitude and acceptance. Everything is okay; Sandy and I are just fine.  The tears rolled down my face.

The PET scan revealed a cancer in my left lung that is believed to have caused the brain tumors.  A lung biopsy will reveal more and surgery to remove the larger tumor (the size of a egg)  happened in two days.  Then radiation and chemo are in the picture. Seems to be the beginning of a whole new adventure of recovery.

We will be writing more in future blogs about this new adventure and how we were prepared from the writing of our book Dig Deep in One Place, A Couple’s Journey to a Spiritual Life and our nineteen years of practicing the spiritual principles of Twelve Step fellowships to meet this new challenge of living in a positive manner.

 Thank you God, for showing us that everything that comes is a gift.


  • Kim


  • Pam

    Hello: My Friends, I am without words, but tears and gratitude, gifts beyond measure you both have given me. What can I do for you Bill, Sandy? You both have held a very special place in my heart for nearly 14 years, and then you both were 5 years sober and I a new born babe in this spiritual place and journey. Time is a capsule and while I have drifted, I have not drifted far, but far from you both, and for that I have a hole in my sidewalk. I miss you both tremendously. I have had many trials, and have continued to trudge that road to happy destiny. Forgive me, I have not known where I belong these days, and have wanted to call you both often, but thought I was not welcome, I fell, and while it no excuse, I have been rejected by many in AA and that has left me with a doubt, a disbelief I cannot describe. While this is not about me, and most often through my own journey in recovery I think you both know it was mostly not about me, but others. I want you both to know if there is anything you need, a friend, anything, I am there for you both how ever you need my support, friendship, and love. No matter what I will always love you both from the bottom of my heart, and will always keep a special place in my heart, and soul with prayer, and healing, and strength that God give you both everything you need, and then some for all the many gifts, selflessness, love, compassion, strength, truth, hope and joy you have brought so very many people in your lives through your journey in AA. I would love to see you both and would love to hear from you both that there is still too a place for me in your hearts, and that I am welcome to come home to the place where my journey too began and where I will always feel at home, with my friends, with realism, genunine people at the Mountain Club or in the wonderful studio where many dreams, and miracles, and memories have grown with many of us. Sandy, my heart, my prayers, my hope and faith is with you and Bill, and he will carry you through this, and everything is really just fine, and you both are truly loved so very much. God Bless You Both and Keep You Always in the here and now and beyond what we can ever imagine, Love Always Pamela Lowe 303-725-6828

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