By CATHY MOUNCE
Register Staff Writer
Gainesville resident Janice Lawson’s life was changed forever when a January 7, 2009 diagnosis of breast cancer left her momentarily reeling but faith, vision and a good friend eventually turned a positive spin on a negative situation with the conception of a new non profit “Still” Blessed With One Less. The organization’s purpose is to provide financial help and resource information to families in Cooke County affected by breast cancer.
Lawson said that at first the diagnosis left her in disbelief that it could not happen to her and said that a lot of people share the thinking that things like this happen to someone else.
“I guess I must have been in shock,” Lawson said, “No one in my family had ever had breast cancer and it was the last thing I expected to hear that day but my question of why me soon was quickly replaced by what do I do next?”
Lawson began her journey with determination and was not going to let the disease define her. Her nurse practitioner Dr. Laura Anderson armed her with the names of surgeons, oncologists and information from the Cancer Treatment Center in Tulsa.
Lawson said that she really believed that this experience was something that she had to just get through so she could move on.
“I asked my doctors what I had to do so I could get past it and get on with my life.”
Originally, Lawson thought that having the surgery and resulting mastectomy was the worse thing that could happen to her but the day she was released from the hospital, her mother suddenly passed away of a heart attack.
“My first caretaker was gone and for the first time I was afraid,” she said. “I had counted on my mother to be with me on this journey but it was not to be,” she confided. “Looking back now I feel that my mother was so upset that one of her children could die that I think she actually died of heartbreak.”
“But despite the feeling of incredible loss, I knew that my faith was being tested and looking back I know that God was teaching me to depend more completely on Him,” she continued. “He got my attention and I knew that what ever happened to me would be His will and not mine. I was enveloped in His love.”
Although stricken at the loss of her mother, friends and family rallied around Lawson and after surgery someone was always there to be with her, take her to doctor’s appointments and to drive her to Tulsa for each of the eight required chemo therapy treatments .
“I can’t say enough about the support I received not only from my family but also from friends and the Cancer Center in Tulsa,” Lawson said, “My church family held benefit fundraisers for me and left me filled with awe and humility. I still don’t know the names of everyone that supported me through this but I am so grateful and feel so blessed.”
In fact, Lawson had always responded “I’m blessed” in greeting even before her health scare.
“Saying I’m blessed was just something that was second nature to me,” Lawson responded. “Responding to a friend’s question of my health after surgery, without thinking, I just said that I was still blessed with one less.”
That moment was an epiphany for Lawson and friend Mary Jeffreys who decided that it was a great name for the non profit that would enable Lawson to give back to the community that had been there for her.
“I had to give back because I was given so much,” she said. “Mary Jeffreys and I started the “Still Blessed with One Less” non profit to provide assistance to breast cancer patients and their families.”
The “Still” Blessed With One Less website states, “Our organization passionately feels called to assist those affected by breast cancer. We understand research for the disease is important; however, we feel led to assist breast cancer patients and their families with the expense the diagnosis of breast cancer can bring. We also want to educate women and make them aware of the resources available regarding breast cancer.”
“On Depot Day, we had a beautiful quilt made by Angel Neu to be auctioned off to help with funding,” Lawson said. “When it was auctioned off, the winner was Joe Connor who proceeded to give it back to be auctioned again.”
“We likened it to the movie ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and hope to keep re-auctioning it off to continue to raise money.”
“We are adamant that funds raised in this county stay in our county,” Lawson advised. “I personally discovered how much our community cares and we believe we have the opportunity to help others locally by providing information that they might not have access to anywhere else.”
When Lawson was first diagnosed, there were no agencies in this area that could provide the information and resources to help Cooke County residents. In setting up the non profit, Lawson was able to get assistance from a north Texas affiliate for the Susan G. Komen organization that came to support the fledgling organization.
Lawson discovered a lot about herself on her journey and is eager to share her experience and knowledge with others.
“We are all made to feel that many things that happen to us are too big for us to handle but I know that our Christ is bigger than anything we have to endure and He walks with us.”
“I have seen many people try and fill their emptiness with different things such as drugs, food, alcohol, money and other things. But Jesus Christ is the only thing that can fill you up completely,” she stated.
“As the old gospel hymn says, this world is not my home but while we are here it is our duty to help each other and that is what I try to do.”
Lawson and her husband Paul Lawson are rarely alone and stay busy with their lives intertwined with four children and 20 grandchildren who all live fairly close.
“I know if my mother was still here, she would be so proud of what has come out of a very dark time in my life,” she said. “I believe that those who are tested grow stronger and my faith in Christ has served me well. I truly am still blessed with one less.”
For information on “Still” Blessed with One Less breast health assistance services, contact Lawson at 940 902 0537 or e-mail at still email@example.com. The web address is www.stillblessedwithoneless.com.
By CATHY MOUNCE
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