Jenny Ward worked for many years at the American Cancer Society in Baltimore in which she held positions in fund-raising, human resources, and health education. Earlier this year, Jenny’s doctor shared with her that she had contracted a disease for which she spent much of her life trying to find a cure – breast cancer. Jenny is a daughter, wife, mom, Christian, Director of Children’s Ministries, and great friend to many, including this author. Below is a brief interview with this very special woman.
In what ways have God, your husband, and the Baltimore-area church in which you are a member helped you through your bout with breast cancer?
“God is good” was one of the first thoughts I had after being told I had breast cancer. I tried to focus on that throughout all pieces of this journey as that has helped me remember the bigger picture. Concentrating on my faith in God and His bigger plan for me was very helpful in keeping me positive. I honestly don’t know how people without faith in God get through big trials.
Bill, my husband, was a wonderful support throughout this journey. He often gave me Bible verses that kept me focused on God’s promises. He also made me feel beautiful throughout the entire process – even when I didn’t have a hair on my head. Bill has always been a great hands-on dad, but he also had to step up as a hands-on mom at times (packing lunches, buying birthday presents, etc.). That had to be hard on him, but he never let me feel that burden. He was wonderful!
One of the many blessings I felt through this trial was the love offered by my church family at Perry Hall Baptist Church. This family has supported me in many, many ways. They provided care for my young son and daughter while I went to chemo treatments, provided me meals for six months, encouraged me through hundreds of cards, and of course lifted me in prayer. The entire church family prayed for me and my healing, my family and my doctors.
How have you addressed this diagnosis with your children?
My husband and I agreed to be as open and honest as possible with the kids, presenting information in age appropriate ways. We started by telling them God has a plan, and this was a part of his plan for Mommy. We also told them that the Bible says not to worry but rather hand over worries to God. We tried to model that throughout the trial.
Our children (ages 6 and 7) were old enough to not require full time attention, yet young enough to not feel the full impact of a cancer diagnosis in the family. Their definition of cancer is – you are really sick, your hair falls out, you need lots and lots of prayers, and then you get better. This is their impression because that was their experience after watching my dad and our neighbor battle cancer. Kids are great prayer warriors; there wasn’t a night that went by that they didn’t pray for mommy to get better!
The fact that we knew that our kids would watch to see how we handled this challenge was a great motivator to keep the faith!
Besides your church, what local resources have you turned to for support?
I had all my treatment through GBMC and loved everyone I have worked with. I think all main hospitals in our area have excellent breast care centers.
Any parting “words of wisdom”?
My suggestion for those who may be working through a similar situation is to keep the faith and turn to God at all times. As our VeggieTales friends say – “God is Bigger Than the Boogie Man.” He is certainly bigger than any cancer diagnosis, so let Him lead you through the journey.