Personal life stories of the National Breast Cancer Awareness echoes hope which enlightens, strengthens and empowers.
Janelle Hail founded the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) in 1991. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34. She described receiving the news, “It smashed my world. I thought it was a death sentence.” Being economically poor as a child, Janelle was equipped and filled with compassion for those who do not have the means to pay for yearly screenings. NBCF’s mission is to save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer and providing mammograms.
I had the opportunity to speak with four hope-filled women: survivalists Carol Cronk, pastor with Assemblies of God and lay minister of Christian Life Center; Tracy D. Arnold, member of Sycamore Christian Center; Brenda Longenecker, member of Christian Life Center and retired, breast cancer surgeon, Dr. Rebecca Glaser, founder of Millennium Wellness Center.
Our natural reaction to life threatening news can become over whelming. Yet, overcomers understand, anchored in faith with grace empowers us with a deep measure of hope and comfort to endure.
“I’d missed two years of having screenings. When I did go, I received the unimaginable news,” said Cronk of Butler Twp. “I was scared … the screening showed something suspicious. I was then advised to have a biopsy. I called on my family, friends and my small group at church. My hope increases because all became a tremendous support. Needless to say, since my diagnosis, I learned that cancer runs in my family. I’ve had my father, three sisters and a brother die from some form of cancer.”
Arnold of Dayton reflected on her journey and her mother who died with breast cancer. “The news shook my world. I knew what my mother went through and at first it made me angry and heart-broken,” she said. “ I remembered my mother and how she suffered. She had missed screenings for three years before she went and received the horrifying news of having stage-four breast cancer. She passed away four years later. The beautiful support of my pastor’s wife and best friend was used by God and became a deep source of comfort. They were with me when I had to have two biopsies and a mastectomy. The comfort and love of my church family and friends inspired me with an unnatural peace and strength to endure.”
Longenecker, also of Dayton, felt her life flashed in front of her. “When I first heard the news, I cried at my desk. I thought about my children, who were 23 and 25 years old,” Longenecker said. “No one close to me in my family had died with major illnesses. My co-workers at Christian Life Center talked and prayed with me and from that point on. The thought of death never entered my mind. It was a strange experience.”
It’s written in the word of God that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
“I am stronger than I thought I was,” Arnold said. “I desire to have reconstructive surgery and there are times when I want to ‘feel whole’ but until then, I am at peace with myself. I continue to trust in God with my whole heart, praising him daily. Being diligent to obtain check-ups is paramount.”
Glaser treated patients as a Breast Cancer Surgeon for 15 years within the Miami Valley, before evolving into research and prevention. “I could see and feel what my patients felt and suffered,” she said.
Testimonies of overcoming the fear and challenges of breast cancer through faith strengthen and empower others. I, too, was threatened with breast cancer. It was suggested for me have a biopsy. Fortunately, with a second opinion and treatments with Dr. Glaser, my mammogram was clear and no biopsies were needed.
Let us all become aware and listen to the echoes, exemplifying a hope that does not disappoint a strength that comes through Christ and receive a love which cast out all fear.
Tonya Lee Carrie, author, public speaker and advocate for the young and elderly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.daali.us/TonyaLeeCarrie.html.