Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

November 2, 2003


Young woman with breast cancer inspires others

with her courage and wit


            Most of us have known and loved someone who died with cancer. Cancer can end our lives quite abruptly. Cancer strikes fear in our hearts. All of us dread hearing our doctor say the words, “You have cancer.”

            Some people are able to survive cancer. Others are not. My sister, Laurida, did not. She died at age 56, suffering great pain in her last months. Her family, especially her children, hated to see her depart. We all admired her courage.

            People who suffer with cancer often inspire us with courage, wit, and fortitude. My friend Annella recently shared with her friends the story of a young woman undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Without disclosing the woman’s identity, I want to share with you some thoughts expressed by this courageous young woman.

            Annella tells us her friend has endured difficult chemotherapy but her spirit remains strong. Presently she is taking another powerful chemical to rid her body of the cancer. Still, Annella says, “she has a wonderful wit and is truly a woman of faith.”

            The young woman beats Dave Letterman, who has his list of ten things to share in every show. She has a list of 20 blessings or benefits of cancer, though she admits they are not necessarily listed in their order of importance to her.

            As you read them, remember the humiliation cancer causes some people so you can enjoy her humor. Remember also that she did not attempt to write her blessings as an essay, but simply to share these ideas with her friends.

            Here is her inspiring list of the blessings or benefits of cancer:

            1.  Knowing that so many people in my town, my state, my country, and even around the world, have prayed for me and that I can actually feel those prayers.

             2.  Becoming more aware of God’s presence in every aspect of my life, big or small.

             3.  Not having to shave my legs.

             4.  Appreciating every day for what it is—a gift.

             5.  Being able to empathize with others who are going through similar circumstances.

            6.  Getting my priorities in order (somewhat, anyway).

             7.  Making new friends at the cancer center, doctors’ offices, and hospitals.

             8.  Being pampered by so many people.

             9.  Learning to trust God with my doubts and fears.

            10. Saving money on haircuts.

            11. Getting special treatment from my boss (principal at school).

            12. Learning to find humor in unfortunate, unusual, or awkward situations related to my condition and treatment.

            13.  Sleeping later because I do not have to wash, dry, and style my hair.

            14.  Renewing old friendships.

            15.  Realizing that God has used so many family members and friends to lift me up and encourage me.

            16.  Not having to dye my gray hair.

            17.  Receiving kindness from people in places when I least expected it.

            18.  Realizing that a hug feels good anytime from anybody.

            19.  Knowing that God is there for me--especially in the darkest moments.

            20.  Receiving lots of food, gifts, phone calls, and cards (the thoughtfulness of so many people will never cease to amaze me).

            I thank Annella, a good friend since high school days, for sharing her friend’s inspiration. Most of all, I thank this young woman for her courage and wit, and for the privilege of sharing her beautiful attitude with many others. + + + +