Cancer survivors, family members tell their stories

Sept. 30, 2013 at 4:30 a.m.
Updated Oct. 1, 2013 at 5:01 a.m.

Rose Vancura, from left, "before and after cancer"

Rose Vancura, from left, "before and after cancer"

The following essays were written by cancer survivors, their family and friends in observance of Project Pink and October being breast cancer awareness month.

He let me be healed

My name is Beverly Ledington. I turned 80 years old on Sept. 17.

In May 2012, I was told I had cancer in my left breast the size of a peanut. So I asked for a lumpectomy because it was so small, and they did just that.

Dr. Sean Hamilton did such a good job that the lymph nodes, etc., were all clear. I didn't have to have any radiation or chemo. I just have to take pills for the next five years.

I am on my second year now. I've always been afraid it would happen to me because all of my family died from cancer of all kinds. But the good Lord saw fit to let me be healed.

But now, I have all the bills to pay that Medicare didn't cover, and I can't pay.

Thanks for letting me write my story.

Beverly Ledington, Victoria

A letter from her brother

Cancer. Just hearing that word gives me a foreboding of what a person endures while battling this disease.

My sister, Diana Flores, was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was shocking to hear of her diagnosis. I felt such a heaviness in my heart.

You see, my "little" big sister is very special to me, and anyone who has met her will agree that she is special. I call her my "little" big sister because she's always been there for me, encouraging me, praying for me, so that I can overcome my battles.

She never wavered but stood strong on God's word - that by His stripes we are healed.

She claimed victory over cancer because the Word says, "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." (John 14:14)

She is doing what God has planned for her life, and that is to be a living testimony of what God can do in your life if you have faith. During her battle, she was very courageous, never doubting that she would be healed. She continued to work and be a caring wife, mom, grandmother, daughter, sister and friend to many. She is such an inspiration to me.

Thank you, Jesus.


Your brother,

Joseph (J.P.) Pena, Victoria

My experience with breast cancer

Ten years ago on Easter Sunday, it was raining hard while I was loading the car with goodies for brunch at the Country Church in Witting. I turned to open the door and found myself falling and hitting my head against a pole.

My granddaughter was with me, and she called 911. They came and took me to Hallettsville.

From there, I went to Citizens Medical Center in Victoria as my thigh bone was broken.

While in the hospital recovering, I was ready to go home on a Sunday morning, and I reached back to answer the phone. A pain shot through my arm. I felt around and discovered an "egg" was on my right breast.

The nurse called to see if a doctor could come check it. There was a surgeon in surgery, and when he came in to see me, he said it was bad.

I called my office Monday to let them know I would have to find out what had to be done.

With my track record, through the years I was near death many times. With my faith in the Lord and friends and family by my side, I knew this would be no different. This nice surgeon's office called me Monday and set up everything. I had my surgery and then needed chemo and radiation.

I asked the doctor, "Am I going to lose my red hair?" "I'm afraid so," was his reply. Sure enough, first treatment and my hair was gone. You know that was OK because my hair came back as white fuzz.

Now, I am 84 years old and still making those enchiladas.

Bless all who have cancer and are still going through this.

Rose "Rosie" Vancura, Shiner

Resilient through it all

Being strong throughout arduous times is not only a coveted attribute of humans, but it is also a necessity.

My mother, Judy Rodriguez, first began her battle with breast cancer when I was 7 years old. At the time, I didn't quite understand what cancer was or how hard it was going to be on my family and my mother especially.

I remember the long days my parents would spend in Houston for her treatments, the pain on my mother's face from the radiation burning her skin and the overall stress this plight had placed on my family. Fortunately, my mother recovered, and we continued our lives as normal.

Fast forward 11 years, and my mother's breast cancer came back seeming to seek revenge.

During this time, I was a senior in high school, and this news greatly rocked our world. I was scared about our financial stability for my mother's copious treatments, surgeries and for my college education. However, my mother remained resilient.

Even though she was really sick and fatigued at times, nothing - absolutely nothing - could ruin her positive attitude.

My mother is the strongest person I know, and I love her very much.

Nina Rodriguez, Refugio

A penny from Heaven

A penny! Right by my car door. I know it was not there when I walked into the store, but ...

This had been a rough day. I had always found time to schedule my routine monthly self-checks and the annual mammogram, but routine was not the descriptive term used for today's report.

As I reached to pick up the rusty penny, I was thinking how supportive all my family had been in helping me schedule the coming appointment with a cancer specialist. I rubbed the penny with my fingers and then glanced down in my hand. It was very old - an Indian head penny.

Since my dad had been born in Indian Territory before Oklahoma became a state, he and my mother enjoyed saving the Indian head pennies they found. I looked at the date: 1905. Close enough. He was born near the end of 1904. I knew, then, that my parents had sent me a "penny from Heaven" to encourage me and let me know everything was going to be just fine.

The continuing prayers and support of family and friends gave me the strength needed. Five and a half years after surgery for tubulolobular carcinoma, I am just great.

Sue Shilling Gibbs, Victoria

Finding strength in faith

My friend and coworker Janet Charbula heard the words this year that most women fear: "You have breast cancer."

Janet is a young woman in her 40s who is married with three daughters. She is a lifelong Victorian and a very active member of Holy Family Catholic Church.

We always know when Janet is in the office because of her infectious laugh.

Her diagnosis was a shock, and there were many times it was difficult to laugh through the tears.

Janet has handled her illness with strength and dignity.

Her Christian faith is strong and is never more evident than after one of her many chemotherapy treatments.

Her favorite verse is "The joy of the Lord is my Strength."

She continues to come to work and take care of her clients as well as the needs of her family - all the time with a beautiful smile on her face.

We all realize that many times she does not feel like smiling, but she does that for us because she knows it helps us to feel better.

Janet is a woman of great courage and truly an example of God's grace.

She is a wonderful wife, mother and friend but most of all these days . a survivor.

Angie Holmes, Victoria

Keeping a positive attitude

I would like to nominate Janet Charbula for the "Day of Pampering."

Janet's faith in God and courage are an inspiration to everyone around her. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in January.

Prior to her diagnosis, she had two sisters with breast cancer; one lost her battle with the disease. I personally cannot imagine how much more difficult this must have made it to hear the doctor inform her of the same diagnosis.

Janet had planned to attend an ACTS retreat that was scheduled immediately after her doctor's visit. She chose to go to the retreat with the belief that she was in God's hands, and she would let him take care of her. Instead of thinking of herself, she spread her faith to the others at the retreat. Amazing strength.

Janet had a mastectomy and has completed her chemo treatments at M.D. Anderson in Sugar Land. Through all of this, she showed unwavering strength. She never complained. She will be starting her radiation treatments very soon. Her positive attitude is so strong.

I believe Janet is very deserving of a "day of pampering." She is an amazing woman and an inspiration to everyone every day.

Geraldine Knowlan, Victoria



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