Article written by Jami Mayberry
No matter where you are in your life, it’s never the right time, or convenient time, to get a cancer diagnosis. It happened to me three months after starting a new job. But, by the grace of God, my gracious employer was the Bryan Broadcasting Corporation. That was in May of 2013.
Since then, I have been through surgery, chemo and six weeks of radiation. It was the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life. I had complications that put me back in the hospital for a week. There were times when I thought my body couldn’t take anymore. It was all just too much. I had a lot of time on my hands to think about things. During and after treatments can be lonely times: even if you have a support network and people who are there for you. I turned to my faith more than I ever had. My days were a walking prayer. The name of Jesus was constantly on my lips. I found myself reaching out to ladies around me that were hurting.
One day, a fellow patient I had seen in the radiation waiting room for weeks was weeping uncontrollably. She was of another faith, she kept her head covered and was a Muslim. Without hesitation I reached out to her and touched her arm and asked if I could hug her. She said yes and we embraced as she cried. I don’t know what came over me. Now I think it was Jesus. We didn’t speak. The next day her friend told me that this woman’s cancer buddy had died and that she lost her main support network. I saw her again a few days later and asked if we could take a picture together. To this day, I don’t know her name, but I know her heart.
I soon learned the kind of gynecological cancer I had was very rare. They don’t even have a color or ribbon for it. The closest thing to it is cervical cancer so I adopted their colors: teal and white. My cancer was diagnosed Stage III so the odds were against me. My doctor, Dr. Patricia Eifel, told me she thought she could cure me but that I would have to go through hell to do it. It’s very sobering when your doctor says that the treatment will be aggressive and painful. I realized I was in for the fight of my life. Recurrence is common. Oh how I wish I had someone that I could have talked to that had the same kind of cancer I did. Someone that KNEW the road I walked (or crawled at times) that could answer questions and encourage me.
I decided right then and there that if I survived this ordeal I would be there for other women that were going through it. It seemed to be a way to bring something positive out of something negative. I wanted God to be glorified somehow through this. So in January of 2014, when I was declared cancer free, I knew that I wanted to start giving back. I contacted MD Anderson and was told about a program called myCancerConnection. It’s a support program that will connect people with someone that has had their type of cancer and has finished treatment or is currently going through it. Isn’t that a genius idea?
I signed up and within a week I got a call that someone wanted to talk. I was given her first name and a phone number. There was personal healing involved with being able to help ease her mind and discuss things that one can’t discuss unless he/she has been through it, things about recuperation, scarring and other private things. I could tell that it was a weight off her shoulders: simply being able to talk to a sister-in-cancer. Since that time, I have talked to over 15 women from all over the United States. One lady was from New Hampshire, a state I’ve never stepped foot in. In spite of that, God used me that day in New Hampshire.
Three years later, I take each day one day at a time and have decided to spend this year traveling since I feel up to it. I’ve been to Seattle for a family wedding, to Cabo with a childhood friend, I will go to Pittsburgh for the first time to visit my only aunt, I will return to Nashville in the fall to see many of the friends that are like family to me. In addition, I have a new sister-in-cancer friend, Babs from San Luis Obispo, California that I will be visiting soon. She found me through a story I wrote on the internet. I’m her only friend with ‘our’ kind of cancer and she calls me “her angel.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that hope and compassion are born from suffering. We serve a God that can use anything we have gone through, but only if we let him. All I had was a willing heart. And a stubborn Texas streak, but that’s another story.