Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Finding hope in the middle of the battle

We grabbed the overhead bar and held on as the University of Georgia bus lurched from the curb to carry us to our next destination. We were there for UGA orientation our son’s freshman year.

Jerry elbowed me in the side and pointed to a man up ahead. “Is that who I think it is?”

I studied the profile. “Maybe.”

When we exited at our next stop, sure enough, the man Jerry pointed to turned out to have the same face as one we’d often seen in a tiny newspaper photo.

Among the parents of almost 5,000 incoming freshmen, we ran into a man whose writing we’d long admired, who also had a daughter entering UGA―syndicated columnist and southern writer, Darrell Huckaby.

We introduced ourselves, and I took a picture with Huckaby and his wife, which I used for a piece in my just started blog. We also had a moment of bonding over the fact my husband played football for the University of Georgia (more here at One Old Dawg), and Huckaby is one of the biggest UGA football fans ever.

Amidst the high hopes we all had for our children that bright summer morning, none of us could have imagined what lay ahead a short time later.

In December of that year, my husband would be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and face months of out of state treatment.

Darrell Huckaby would also be diagnosed with prostate cancer just a few months after my husband in the spring of the next year. Although my husband’s cancer hit the top of the scale in terms of aggressiveness, it appeared to be contained. Doctor’s didn’t give Darrell that same outlook. In fact, doctor after doctor, offered him only a dire prognosis.

 After exhausting options locally, he felt led to go to M.D. Anderson, where through innovative treatment, he found hope and eventually regained stability in his health.

Our paths continued to intersect with Huckaby. My husband invited him to speak at our church one Sunday morning. And Huckaby wrote a wonderful article about it. I ran into him while holding a book signing in a neighboring town where he was also signing books.

Huckaby has since written a memoir, entitled, Yea Though I Walk, chronicling his fight against prostate cancer and the work God did in his heart through it. He sent us a copy, and my husband latched on to it. He deliberately didn’t share what he read with me, so as not to spoil my reading experience. It took a while to wrestle the book from his hands, but when I did and came to page 209, I was honored and surprised to find us mentioned.

All this and more from a seemingly random meeting.

I am celebrating my fifteenth year as a cancer survivor this year. I am most encouraged through the testimonies of those who have persevered in the face of overwhelming odds. Huckaby’s story is one that gives me hope to keep on no matter what I face.

Continuing in his role as a lifelong educator, today Darrell Huckaby is leading educational tours around the world―a life far from the one predicted for him before he went to M.D. Anderson. I’m hoping we get to go with him sometime.

If you have sagging hope, read Yea Though I Walk. You will laugh and you will cry, but most of all you will be encouraged. If you've already read it, give a copy to someone else who may need a boost.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).

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