Sally Mart was diagnosed in 2001 with advanced breast cancer. Despite the challenges this brought to Chris and Sally’s life together, the couple held fast to their faith in the Savior.
Of learning of her diagnosis, Sally said, “When I returned to my room that day, I knelt and poured out my heart to my Heavenly Father and I asked Him, ‘Heavenly Father, what can I do to magnify this experience and make it count for everything, make it beneficial for others and for my family?’ The answer came clearly and surely, ‘Don’t just endure this experience. Be grateful for it.’”
Sally—with Chris by her side every step of the way—battled cancer for 14 years until she passed away just two months ago. Her life is a powerful example to me of someone who rose above her own challenges, relied on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and looked outward as she dedicated her life to caring for others.
Sally leaves behind a remarkable legacy of love and service that lives on with Chris and the children. After suffering eight miscarriages, Sally and Chris adopted 17 children, most of whom faced significant physical and mental challenges. Throughout her illness, Chris and Sally devoted their lives to loving and caring for their precious children.
Before passing, Sally said, “I have come to the realization and conclusion, through the years that I have dealt with many issues, as have all of you, … it’s part of the human experience. … If we shrink from opportunities like this, no matter how painful they might be, we are denying the power of the Atonement in our life. My testimony of the Atonement is literally soaring! I am here to tell you that as the points of the refiner’s fire become higher and higher, the Lord Jesus Christ, through His atoning sacrifice for us, enables us to increase our spiritual vertical and rise above those flames.”
When I visited with Chris and the children, I was so impressed by each member of this family. Chris’s words and actions are examples of his faith, humility, and desire to follow the Savior. Though death separates Sally from Chris and the children for a season, their family bond is eternal.
May we all accept the Atonement in our lives and live with faith in the midst of our trials, as this exemplary family has shown. I echo the words that Elder Dallin H. Oaks said recently in the October general conference (http://bit.ly/1PpTmxl):
“Our Savior’s Atonement does more than assure us of immortality by a universal resurrection and give us the opportunity to be cleansed from sin by repentance and baptism. His Atonement also provides the opportunity to call upon Him who has experienced all of our mortal infirmities to give us the strength to bear the burdens of mortality. He knows of our anguish, and He is there for us.”