“This is Just a Season” was read by over 2,000 viewers on CREATED WOMAN this past year. It was the story of forty-year-old Jenny Stark from Orange, Texas, and her journey with breast cancer. Jenny’s courage to embrace breast cancer, her desire to help others traveling down the same road, and her faith was truly a class act.
Knowing that Jenny was going to have reconstructive surgery within a few months after that story, I wanted to do a follow-up article on her. Discussing this with her, she told me that her surgery, called a TRAM-FLAP, was scheduled for October 10, 2011. I suggested that we wait until after the surgery to let viewers know how she was doing.
Immediately, she replied: “No, I don’t want this article to be about me and my surgery.” “I want it to be about Paying it Forward.” “Paying it forward?” I asked. “Yes!” “The knowledge I have learned through my own trials, equipped me in helping someone else through theirs.” “It’s like passing the baton,” Jenny explained.
And so it was- – - this is where I picked up on Jenny’s story from last year of how Jenny went about Paying it Forward to a friend and former co-worker at the bank where Jenny had once been employed.
Like most women when they first hear the news from their local doctor that they have cancer, Jenny’s friend was shocked and afraid to proceed to the next step. The next step called for her traveling two hours away from her home in Orange to M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas, for more tests. “I will go with you,” Jenny told her friend.
When she received word from her doctor that she would need Chemotherapy, Jenny went with her on her first treatment. When she was given a Saturday appointment for a CT scan, Jenny volunteered to drive her. When it came time to get the results of that test, her friend was too scared to receive the news herself over the phone. Jenny placed the call with her to get the results one way or the other, so she wouldn’t have to wait the entire weekend with no results.
Jenny went so far as to fill in for her friend at the bank on a part time basis in her absence. She wanted to relieve her of the worries or concerns that she may have, so she could totally focus on getting better.
Jenny emphasized the importance of making yourself available for the FIRST OF EVERYTHING to the one who has been diagnosed with cancer.” “It’s not so much that you have to attach yourself permanently to that person,” Jenny explained. “It’s a matter of being willing to be a servant, to be there for that person, whether it’s driving them to their appointments, or just answering their questions.” “In short, make yourself available to do everything that is in your power for them in their time of need.”
Jenny also introduced her friend to the “Do and Don’t list when faced with cancer, as she had detailed in This is Just a Season. (linked above) Jenny very emphatically reiterates two that she feels strongly about:
1. Don’t get on the internet when your doctor confirms that you have cancer. Everyone’s breast cancer is unique; what you find on the internet may not apply to you. Besides, it only creates anxiety to find information that might not even apply to your situation. Let your doctor explain to you the steps to be followed according to your specific situation. He will also keep you at the point where you need to be in at the present time.
2. Do ask God for direction in choosing the right hospital, and follow the doctor’s orders in charge. “You see, it works like this,” Jenny explained. “There is a big difference when faced with making crucial decisions based on our emotions rather than on praying and asking God for directions.” “As we receive directions from God, He will guide us to the right hospital, as well as the right doctors whom he has given wisdom and skill.” “God, the hospital, and the doctor work as a team in restoring your health.”
As Jenny and I talked on in general about the storms of life that come to all of us at times, I marveled at her insight and wisdom of how to walk through those storms and not become a victim to them. “Wow, you are so wise!” I exclaimed. She laughed and then gave me an illustration, using her hands in a lowered position, then in an upward position.
“You are never down; you are either up or getting up.” If you are getting up, you are moving in an upward position. Picture yourself moving in the direction toward God. If you are down, you are not moving at all, so always be leaning towards Him or on Him.”
We glanced at our watches and two hours had passed since our conversation had begun. I could have lingered in her presence another two hours gleaning wisdom from her. We prayed together for her upcoming reconstructive surgery, and as we were saying our goodbyes, Jenny remarked: “I had no idea what I was going to say when I met with you today.” “I had no notes; I just knew I wanted to talk about my friend, and my journey with her this past year.”
My thought was: Jenny didn’t need any notes. Her heartfelt message poured out from within of her desire and hope that she had helped her friend.
I personally believe that God is smiling down on Jenny saying:
“You have answered The Discipleship Call. You have BELIEVED, LIVED, LOVED, MINISTERED, and LEAD your friend through her journey with cancer this past year.”
. “Well Done!” “I am pleased with my servant, Jenny.”
“You Paid it Forward!”