Joyce Minor

Facing the beast head-on

I have been writing this column and loving every minute of it for almost six years. I've written nearly 300 columns reflecting on life; exploring ideas; sharing laughter, tears, memories and frustrations; as well as analyzing happenings in our community and beyond. For me, it has been one long and satisfying conversation with you, my readers. No, you're not getting rid of me yet; it is my hope that our weekly chats will continue for many years to come. But beginning next week my column will take a different path, temporarily. The reason is that I have been undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Starting next week, and for as long as it takes, my columns will be drawn from a journal of my experiences fighting this life-threatening disease.
My journal was not written for publication. In fact, I refused outright when the idea was first pitched to me. But then I began meeting dozens of women who are facing the same uncertainties, the same life and death decisions, the same long road of pain, fear and possible recovery. If my journey through this dark passage can help bring hope and encouragement to even one frightened, hurting woman, I must do this. It will not be easy to share my private thoughts and fears. I'm used to putting a brave face on everything. I'm used to being the strong one, but already this is completely different from anything I've ever faced. This is a journey I do not control. Just when I think I've got this life-thing figured out — just when I'm busy and satisfied with things as I've arranged them — just when I'm used to my roles as wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, friend, neighbor, church member and caregiver, God decides I need to learn one more — the role of care recipient. Already friends, relatives, neighbors and church members are stepping up to offer flowers, gifts, encouragement, help and prayers. I am truly grateful to everyone, but it's hard and humbling to receive. I'm so much more comfortable with giving. I had no idea, when this all was thrust upon me, what a fight it would be. And it's really just begun; I have a long road ahead. This is uncharted territory and there are multiple dangers in the woods where this beast called cancer lives. Fortunately, these days many face him down, but too many still lose the fight. Which fate will be mine, remains to be seen. I don't want your pity. I don't need your charity. I have just one goal in all of this: that it somehow will help others facing the same beast to do so with courage and hope. Whatever is ahead, I know nothing can touch me without the consent of my heavenly father. Anything he allows is for my good, and he will see me through it. No matter what I must face, no matter what the ultimate outcome, I am already the victor because I am his child. Stubborn and willful? Yes. Sassy yet fearful? You bet. His child in spite of it all? Absolutely. I trust him completely, and I know I will never walk alone. So, en garde, cancer. You have met your nemesis. His name is Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.