The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Life!

December 19, 2012

All they want for Christmas...

Cancer survivors and the gift of a positive attitude

Cancer is oblivious to the calendar.

Nearly as fast as Santa’s sleigh is rumored to fly, alongside complaints of Christmas busyness paired with exaggerated exclamations of “sick and tired,” a diagnosis can happen that shatters everything ironically back into perspective.

The survivors, those determined to beat the odds presented them, offer points of view that those with a clean bill of health can learn from greatly. Like how to shrug off the little inconveniences — and how even the hectic moments are part of what, in sum total, forms another blessed day.

Cathy Redden has had more than her fair share of bad health news. It began with a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory condition affecting the digestive tract, in 2000 that caused her to finally quit work as a medical receptionist in 2009. This year, she has faced the battle of her life dealing with stage III breast cancer and the chemotherapy prescribed to fight it.

“The chemo makes me very sick, but I am going to beat this,” Redden resolves.

She admits to being very discouraged at the diagnosis at first. Then, a doctor started what would amount to the rallying around that she needed for encouragement.

“She told me, ‘If you don’t pick that chin up, I am not going to be able to help you.’”

Since her treatments and the attendant one-two punch of tiredness and hair loss, Redden is choosing to take a positive attitude, encouraged by the actions she sees of those supporting her.

Former co-workers she considers as close as family have organized several fundraisers to help Redden defray the costs of driving to Morgantown for her chemo. While Medicare and Medicaid have paid most of her medical expenses, one prescription to assist with mouth sores, side effects of her treatment, wasn’t covered by her insurance.

“I’ve only had a few sores though. I just put up with them,” she says.

Redden’s husband is also dealing with a chronic condition that ended his career as a heavy equipment operator, removing the bulk of their family income.

Still, she has granddaughter Haley to help both of them at home. The couple is in the process of officially adopting the teen. Redden credits a strong community of faith at her home church, Terry Independent Church, with supporting her and her husband through the difficult times.

While she hasn’t felt up to Christmas shopping and she has accepted her housework at less than the usual spotless standards, she wears her trademark pink top and necklace with pride, energized by the prayers she feels going up for her at this season celebrating the very foundation of what it means to have faith.

“I’m on prayer lists here and in North Carolina and Virginia. Mostly, what I want are all the people praying for me who will.”

-----

For Alicia Kinder, busy mom of three, (Hannah, 14, Cate, 8, and Joe, 3) a second diagnosis of melanoma within two years couldn’t have come at a worse time. Through her personal faith and her experience as a former director for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Syracuse, N.Y., she is able to view the positive biopsy as a true positive in life, where priorities develop crystal clarity and a survivor’s spirit emerges.

“Just because you hear the word cancer, that doesn’t mean it’s a death sentence.”

Kinder recalls the symbolism of the Relay For Life summer event which she helped organize during her tenure with the ACS. “The whole idea of having Relay overnight was to simulate the cancer

experience. You’re there through the darkest part, and then the sun rises.”

Her reaction to the initial diagnosis surprised even her. “I said, ‘Are you sure?’”

Once out of denial, she remembered her days of watching the survivor lap at the opening of each Relay.

“It was a calming thought to know how many hundreds of cancer survivors I had been around who had beat it. I’m not going to let this terrify me.”

Kinder considers herself fortunate; her three tumors have been visible, detected early enough to avoid chemo or radiation and to be removed through surgery only. She is scheduled for her most recent surgery this Friday, four days before Christmas and smack dab in the middle of family and office holiday celebrations.

But with each day counted down toward an explosion of wrapping paper on her living room floor, she is likewise counting her blessings.

“When I worked for ACS, I watched a lady with a very aggressive form of breast cancer battle it for nine years before she died. The constant treatments — it was just heartbreaking. Now, she is an inspiration to me, how she always stayed so positive. What do I have to complain about? My situation is nothing compared to hers.”

One of the greatest gifts a person in a fight for health can give herself this season, Kinder contends, is a positive attitude.

“At (Wake Forest Medical Center), they told me, ‘your attitude will play a huge role in your recovery.’ And they’re right.”

------

Fundraiser

A fundraiser to benefit Cathy Redden will happen Thursday at Calacino’s in Beckley. Ten percent of the day’s earnings will go to a fund established at Chase bank to assist with her continuing medical

expenses.

For more information, call Carol or Tabby with Dr. Gary Poling’s office, Beckley, at 304-255-2527.

------

— E-mail: lshrewsberry@register-herald.com

Text Only
Life!
  • crowcookbook Kitchen comfort

    For Janet Crow of Quinwood, this Easter marks a deeply personal miracle — that of countless prayers for her physical restoration whispered by people who cared more than she could’ve ever imagined.

    April 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • Scholarship for girls in a health science field established at BAF

    In every community there is work to be done and each community member has something to contribute.

    April 20, 2014

  • Concord University mounting production of ‘Spoon River’

    Concord University’s Theatre Department will perform “Spoon River Anthology” by Edgar Lee Masters in the H.C. Paul Theatre April 23-26 at 8 p.m. nightly.

    April 20, 2014

  • Society seeking items for Vietnam War exhibit

    The Greenbrier Historical Society is seeking photographs, artifacts and local history to include in an upcoming exhibit about remembering the Vietnam War.

    April 20, 2014

  • Rock violinist, stand-up comic to perform in free events at Lewisburg

    The Greenbrier Valley Campus of New River Community and Technical College will celebrate Student Appreciation Week April 21-25 with a number of events including two special performances that are open to the public free of charge.

    April 20, 2014

  • Dance workshop, show planned

    The stars will shine brightly over the pyramids this month — only these pyramids will be in Beckley. And these stars will both twinkle and dance.

    April 20, 2014

  • Live transmission of The Met’s ‘Così fan tutte’ at GVT

    In partnership with The MET: Live in HD series, Greenbrier Valley Theatre presents a live transmission of Mozart’s joyful and heart-rendering masterpiece, “Così fan tutte,” Saturday at 12:55 p.m.

    April 20, 2014

  • Stories give us kinship with strangers

    Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published April 10, 2010.
     
    My dad was a coal miner. By the time I came along, he was working above ground as a tipple foreman.

    April 19, 2014

  • momrun Just do it W.Va.!

    “Missy’s here — we’re not going to win. Missy’s here…”
    Learning she was a perceived threat from two women whispering at the starting line behind her, women she had never met from among the hopping, stretching, Lycra-clad crowd, had one effect on Missy Burleson — a smile spreading as far as her feet were about to sprint her.

    April 16, 2014 5 Photos

  • living will 1 Decision day

    Pastor Roger Pauley and his wife Marcia were — like so many other baby boomers — charged with the responsibility of making decisions for their aging parents. For the pastor’s father, death was sudden.

    April 13, 2014 2 Photos