Meadville Tribune

Local News

June 10, 2014

Survivor stories: Peace with God helped in healing process after having breast cancer

Editor’s note: Blooming Valley Landscaping and Supply hosts Pink Days In Bloom on June 19 to 21. The three-day event, which includes hands-on demonstrations, speakers, music and other entertainment, benefits The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Institute. In honor of this event, Blooming Valley Landscaping and Supply and The Meadville Tribune have honored local cancer survivors with a four-part series of stories on how they beat the disease. Today’s final part of the series features Laurie Hoke of Meadville. The first three parts of the series were published on May 20 and 27 and June 3. For more information on Pink Days in Bloom, visit bvlas.com or call Deanna Howles at (814) 724-5296.

The strength and courage of people continually amazes me. What an honor it has been for me to be able to talk with the women in this cancer series. I’ve heard their stories and have shared them with people in the hope that their stories will provide a small bit of courage, insight and hope to someone else going through and living with cancer.

Laurie Hoke, a Meadville resident, shares her story of being diagnosed with and living with breast cancer.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2013. I had six rounds of chemotherapy, surgery and 30 rounds of radiation. Right now I am in the process of receiving a preventative drug specifically for this type of cancer. I take that every three weeks for 18 treatments and have just had my 11th treatment. I have not experienced any side effects on this treatment.

“The chemo was pretty brutal, but I have a very, very strong faith. What got me through was a lot of prayer. I also have a good group of people supporting me and praying for me — just being there for my family and me.

“I have PET scans every six months. I just had my third scan and it came back clear, showing the tumor had a complete response to the chemo.

“People think or wonder if I am nervous or scared prior to going for a scan. I recently told a friend about my upcoming appointment. She put her hand on my shoulder and said, ‘You will be fine.’ My first thought was, ’Oh ... I am fine, I know God is in control.’ Honestly, I have such a peace about my healing that I wasn’t even concerned about it this time.

“Once I was diagnosed, I got on the Internet looking at nutrition information and a link popped up for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Learn more about them at cancercenter.com.

“I wasn’t even looking for a treatment center; I was looking for nutrition information. I tell people that God put that link in front me. Thankfully, my insurance was accepted and that is where I chose to go for treatment. They offer a more holistic view, which is a better fit for me.

“They treat your whole body instead of just the cancer. They treat your mind, body and spirit. Beside the medical aspect of it, they offer counseling, ministers, massage, acupuncture and so much more. It is an amazing place.

“How has this journey affected me? I think it has brought me to a stronger faith, a stronger realization that God is in control and He is there to help you through. It has shown me the good in people. People you don’t even know step up and try to do something to help. My family and I have been abundantly blessed by the things people have done for us through this time.

“My advice for anyone going through something similar is: Get a second opinion. I feel it is wise to do that. If the second opinion comes back as the first, you at least have a peace about knowing you are doing the right thing.

“I would also say let people help you. That is a hard thing to accept sometimes, but people want to help, so let them. It makes them feel better if they can help.

“Someone said to me, ‘You would do this for someone else, let us help you.’ That really struck me, because I knew it was true.

“There were times I said to myself, ‘I thought I was stronger than this.’ It is such an emotional roller coaster and I am not an emotional person, but I was during the treatments.

“My pastor encouraged me to journal, and so I did, every single time that there was a ‘God Sighting.’ That’s how I view the amazing things that keep happening — ‘God Sightings.’

“Every time God showed up, I could see it was his hand in what was happening. I made sure I put it in my journal so I would not forget. Things like when I thought I may miss my plane and I had people praying for me, my flight ends up being delayed, so I made the flight, and countless others — too many to list here.

“One of the things that has really helped me is Psalm 91. It is a Psalm of protection. I was reading it one day and said, ‘I am claiming that. That is my passage of scripture and I am claiming it. It’s a promise from God that he will protect me.’

“Two weeks later, a massage therapist told me she was praying for me and God told her to share Psalm 91 with me. I was shocked. I had never told anyone about that scripture. Another time, on the day of my surgery, I pulled up my Bible app and Psalm 91 popped up. Coincidence? I don’t think.

“How do I now view life? I am obviously very thankful for the healing that I have received. I look at things differently. You realize how important family is. We may take those kinds of things for granted typically, but it brings you back to reality. I’m learning not to sweat the small stuff anymore.

“Another thing I have done is try to eat differently. I try to eat more organic, plant-based meals. Not because of a diet, I’m just more aware of what I am eating; aware of the chemicals that are in everything that we live with.

“But truly, I have a peace about this whole journey and my healing process. God is protecting me.”

Kim Lengling is a local businesswoman and owner of Full Circle Events, an event coordination, marketing and public relations service.

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