My journey with cancer: Comfort and Joy

Published 6:19 pm Friday, December 23, 2016


I have always loved the Christmas season, more specifically the days and weeks of celebrations leading up to the big day.

Here in Beaufort County we have numerous yuletide events to attend. There are parades, parties, performances at the Turnage, special church services … the list goes on.

For me, Christmas holds even more meaning this year, for obvious reasons. I have learned to savor each day, and making memories for myself to treasure, as well as for those around me, has become particularly important.

I was honored earlier this week by the folks at Raised In A Barn Farm; they set aside two evenings of their hayrides through downtown Washington as a fundraiser for me. This touched me in ways they may never know. The extra money this provided me is much appreciated, but even more I was touched by their generosity as well as the support of those who attended.

During my years with the Washington Daily News I have covered more than a few such fundraising activities for other people. To have the tables turned, so to speak, was humbling and heartwarming at the same time.

Likewise, I was thrilled to be asked to serve as grand marshal of this year’s Christmas parade in Chocowinity. To be chosen by the members of the Chocowinity Fire Department for this honor was truly unexpected. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I avoid the limelight at all costs, but I saw this opportunity as yet another way to give hope to other cancer fighters while also living life to the fullest. I had a blast and it is a memory I shall cherish for the rest of my life.

I was talking with a friend the other day and I recalled reading an article years ago in which people shared their wishes that they could attend their own funerals in order to see who really loved them and cared about them. Since my diagnosis, I have been blessed by so many people who are letting me know now, while I’m alive, that I matter to them. Make no mistake, I don’t see this as being morbid in any way. It brings me much comfort and joy.

This outpouring of support comes from my biological family, of course, but it also extends to my work families at Chocowinity Primary School and the Daily News, friends and friends of friends and the community in general.

“I am praying for you” are words I never tire of hearing.

There are 19 little Santa’s elves, angels actually, who make my days brighter and happier. My kindergarten students make me laugh with their jokes and make me cry (happy tears) with their hugs. Sometimes I take a moment to just watch them as they work, and I send up a prayer thanking God for putting them in my life. They are aware I am sick, but they don’t know the details, and when I have to leave work early for doctors’ appointments, I am sent off with the best hugs anyone could ask for.

I am truly blessed in ways I don’t deserve.

Health-wise, I am continuing to gain ground. While this will be a battle I intend to fight until the bitter end, my doctors are encouraged by how well I am responding to treatment. I am continuing a chemotherapy regimen in pill form; in fact, the latest round begins Christmas Eve. My blood work looks promising every visit I make to my oncologist, and there have been discussions about beginning radiation sometime in the next few months. Much hinges on a PET scan scheduled in late January, so continued prayers are appreciated.

As much as I love Christmas, I have never cared for the New Year’s holiday. Quite frankly, it depresses me with thoughts of all I have failed to accomplish during the year, of goals and dreams unfulfilled. But this year is different; I am ready to put 2016 behind me.

I intend to grab 2017 by the horns and, as my friends at Raised In A Barn Farm like to say, “kick cancer’s butt.” My big resolutions for the new year are to fight this terrible disease while at the same time living life to its fullest.

When God calls me home, I don’t plan on having any regrets.