- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

LITITZ, Pa. (AP) - Sara Martin, 37, a mother of three dying of brain cancer, hadn’t spoken for weeks until she said one word: “Florida.”

Surprised and delighted, the Martin family quickly decided what to do. They leave for Sarasota on Monday.

“There’s nothing like sunshine and the beach to make you feel better,” said Amy Martin, 42, who looks forward to seeing her sister enjoy Florida one last time.

The trip in the RV came about because of a promise.

Sara Martin has received hospice care at her Warwick Township home as her health declined this winter to the point she no longer talked. But Amy Martin had an idea to try to get her sister to smile, nod or say something.

“If you say ‘Florida,’ I’ll get dad to take us,” Amy Martin promised her sister. “But you’ve got to tell me. I’ve got to know if you really want to go.”

Sara Martin said nothing.

But the next morning Sara Martin said, “Florida.”

Sara’s husband, Dean Martin, and her mother, Barbara Martin, were getting Sara Martin dressed when she spoke. Aware of Amy Martin’s promise, they were amazed. Then she said it again.

“We were like, ‘Oh, no! We have to take her!’” Amy Martin recalled saying after her mother called with the news.

“I guess we’re going,” Sara’s father, Earl Martin, agreed. His daughter hasn’t talked since.

The Martins rented an RV in which Sara Martin, who uses a wheelchair, can recline in or sleep comfortably during the 18-hour trip to Sarasota, where Earl and Barbara Martin have a vacation house.

Nearby Siesta Key Beach is one of Sara Martin’s favorite places to go with her children, Carlie, 12, Gretchen, 11, and Connor, 9. But the children are in school and won’t be going.

Since her diagnosis in 2010, Sara Martin and her family have been well supported by family, friends and members of Hammer Creek Mennonite Church, north of Lititz, where Sara Martin once led the worship team and taught Sunday school.

In advance of the 1,000-mile trip, a 12-hour prayer vigil for the Martins was to end at 6 a.m. Monday at Gateway House of Prayer near Ephrata. The family is thankful to donors who have helped with travel costs.

A former physical therapy assistant at Lancaster General Hospital, Sara Martin became progressively less responsive after a second round of radiation treatment for the aggressive, inoperable tumor.

Doctors last fall didn’t give her long to live, Amy Martin said, “but here we are in April.”

Making the trip with Sara Martin will be her parents; Amy and husband, John Martin, and family friend Trina Martin.

“I plan on hitting the beach every day if she tolerates it,” Amy Martin said. “This is all about making her comfortable, giving her a change of scenery and hoping it gives her something she might be able to talk about.”

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Online: https://bit.ly/1xW9Bft

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Information from: LNP, https://lancasteronline.com

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