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Layman with cancer organizes church-based support group

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP)–In facing cancer, “face the facts, face the fear and face the freedom,” urged Arkansas First Lady Janet Huckabee during a Cancer Fighters’ luncheon at Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock.
She shared the testimony of her personal fight with cancer with almost 200 victims of cancer, their family members and guests at the luncheon.
“Anytime anybody hears the word, for the most part, you will be afraid of what you hear,” she said Dec. 8. “You are scared to approach any farther. It’s a word by its nature that’s kind of scary. I have been there and done that and got scars to prove it.”
She told of her fight with cancer as a newlywed at age 20, saying, “I experienced something that I thought, quite frankly, that I would never ever have to experience.
“Mike and I had been married a couple of years,” she recounted. “I was experiencing some severe back problems for a year. According to doctors, I had a disc problem. Following a myelogram, they said, ‘Sorry, you don’t have a disc problem.’ They used that big world that we never, ever want to hear. They said, ‘We think it’s cancer.’
“I’m 20 years old. That was not what I wanted to hear,” said Huckabee, wife of Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee. “I am thankful today that I had the support I had through my family. What I had to do was face the facts that it was something I really didn’t want, but it was something I had to deal with. And not only that I had to deal with, but my new husband and a family not living where I was.”
Part of facing the facts was turning to God and Christian friends, she said.
“Because we turned it over to the Lord, we got through something that could have been a very difficult situation,” Huckabee said, adding that “I am very much a strong believer that the biggest support I had was through my Christian friends.”
Pointing out the need for support, she said, “I really appreciate a support group through a Baptist church because, to me, if I didn’t have those Christian friends at my Baptist church at the time, I’m not sure I would have made it through what I went through.
“I was told that I might die. … If I survived, I would probably be paralyzed and if I wasn’t paralyzed, I wouldn’t have children … and if I did have children, they could be deformed and mentally retarded,” she recalled.
“None of those options was pleasing, but I have three children. … All are perfectly healthy and most of the time are not retarded,” she joked.
She underwent surgery to remove the cancer, “a spinal tumor embedded in my spinal canal, wrapped around all the nerves in my legs.”
Following surgery, the doctor came out earlier than expected “fully dressed in his suit and Mike said, ‘She’s died.’ He was not prepared for the early arrival of the doctor and didn’t expect him to be dressed in a suit.
“The doctor said, ‘You are not going to believe this, but we pulled on the tumor and it slipped right out,'” Huckabee related. “Mike told the doctor, ‘You know you were not in that operating room alone.’ Mike was pastor of a little church in Arkadelphia, but those people were there, my support group through prayer. They prayed for me.”
Urging the church to continue the ministry, she called for the congregation to do “whatever you can do to keep this group going … because people out there don’t always have someone to turn to. Whenever you experience this, you may face the facts that you have cancer, but you may not be able to face the fact that you don’t have friends or family to help you through it. A support group is vital.”
After facing the facts, she said, “You have to face the fear. The fear of the unknown is something you can’t prepare for. If God had given us the ability to look into the future, none of us would go beyond where we were at that moment.”
She also urged listeners to “face the freedom.”
After surgery and six weeks of radiation therapy, she and her husband enjoyed “the freedom we had and the joy of this life as a whole.”

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  • Russell N. Dilday