Sharing Our Stories

‘I Am Thrilled My Faith has Grown, Not the Cancer’: Joy’s Story – In Her Own Words

For Joy Schroeder, 36, this past year has brought pain – but, more so, it’s brought abundant blessings.

After feeling a small lump and then later noticing it had grown a little, Joy went to the doctor in the spring of this year. She was given the diagnosis no one wants to hear: breast cancer. But since that time, this survivor has undergone treatment and says she is feeling strong and ready to handle the future. Here, she shares her reflections of grace under pressure – and thanksgiving.

Just prior to taping the television commercial for the James Graham Brown Cancer Center and University of Louisville Hospital back in August, I had recently completed 16 rounds of chemotherapy and was waiting for the next steps to attack my cancer.

Since the taping I have had a double mastectomy with 15 lymph nodes removed, multiple visits to a plastic surgeon and 28 days of radiation treatments.

One may not think this to be true, but I woke this past Thanksgiving with such thankfulness in my heart and a bright smile on my face.

As I reflected over the past year, I was incredibly thankful for my family. Words can’t describe the magnitude of love and support I received from them throughout the year. I was thankful for all the prayers, cards and gifts sent by so many friends and family members. Their love and support touched me deeply.

I was thankful for all the doctors, workers, volunteers and nurses I met along the way at both University Hospital and the James Graham Brown Center. They are some of the most caring and compassionate people I have ever met. I was thankful for all the beautiful patients and their families I met who shared their stories with me and listened to mine. I pray for many of them still today.

After surgery, I was told by my surgeon and oncologist that my pathology report looked very good, and they were able to get all the cancer. According to the report, the chemo had done its job and stopped the cancer in its tracks. The cancer had not spread but had actually shrunk.

The radiation treatments would be the last punch to make sure no cancer cells were left behind. I finished radiation earlier this month. I am currently trying to rest up before returning to my job as a 7th grade teacher.

Life is busy, but I try to make time to do devotions, exercise, take a nap or do something for me. I still have another surgery to go, but I won’t be able to schedule it for another 6 months.

While I am doing well right now, I would say the biggest challenge ahead of me is fighting the fear of…..”Is the cancer going to return??” It’s at those moments I just have to stop and think…. “I’ve fought cancer once and won; I can fight it again and win, too!!”

After almost a year of fighting cancer, I am most thankful for my faith in God, which helped me get through it all.

I have a verse I said so many times this year to keep me going….

I am strong, I am courageous and firm. I fear not and am not in terror for it is the Lord my God who goes with me. He will never fail me nor forsake me…Deuteronomy 31:6.

I learned this year: I can do everything through Him who gives me strength….Philippians 4:13.

I am thankful I was able to stay strong and turn such devastating news into a positive experience. I have received such positive feedback from people who have seen me from the ad campaign. People keep telling me how good I look considering what I have been through.

I think they, like myself, thought having cancer means never looking or feeling good. I have since found that not to be the case.

It warms my heart when my daughters come up to me, give me a big hug and tell me how happy they are I am doing well. They are so thrilled my hair is growing back so quickly!!

I am thrilled my faith has grown, not the cancer, and I am a stronger and better person today having had cancer.


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