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  • Writer's pictureLee Weaver

OBSERVATIONS OF THE SPOUSE OF CANCER VICTIM

Monday February 8, 8:20 A M. Wanda Jo (Boyce) Weaver has succumbed to cancer and gone to eternal comfort in the arms of Jesus.


In the year 2010 A D


REST IN PEACE


In 1989 I was approaching the end of an employment contract and decided not to negotiate an extension. In 1985 I had led in the establishment of a pro-life counseling service (the Pregnancy Help Center of Fort Worth) and in 1989 decided to take a breather from the corporate world in order spend a year in promoting the pro-life agenda.


What fortuitous timing! In February or March 1990 Wanda was diagnosed with breast cancer. In May she had her first surgery – a single radical mastectomy. Being ‘retired,’ and with the pro-life agenda permitting a very flexible schedule, I was able to spend hours and days ministering to Wanda in her travail. I read poetry to her, prayed with and for her and accompanied her on EVERY doctor appointment.


Wanda was quite leery of radiation and chemotherapy: both result in very debilitating side effects, but eventually it became our only hope without a Godly intervention. I think we eventually did three rounds of chemo; I don’t recall how much radiation. With the chemo Wanda lost her hair but got a wig, which I thought was very becoming in the circumstances!


The cancer then went into remission and we enjoyed a few years of small relief. In the meantime Wanda developed a real commitment to healthy eating and became somewhat of an expert on nutrition (this was not brand-new; back in the 1970s because of some allergy issues among our immediate family we had become quite committed to organic foods and approved supplements).


Regrettably, early in the new century we experienced a recurrence of the cancer. This time, in parallel with traditional medical treatment we determinedly pursued alternative treatment protocols along with heavy reliance on foods and nutrition. Also regrettably, these new pursuits revealed some real charlatans in the alternative field along with some “guessing games” in traditional medicine. Before I address some of these false hopes and shamans and scoundrels I want to give a real shout-out to two fine oncologists with not only a very caring attitude but who addressed everything in a very professional way. These two individuals were Dr. Mark Redrow in the early part of the 2000’s and Dr. Jairo Olivares through the final year. A shout-out also to two very dear nurse friends – Mindy Campbell and Mitzi Gault. In the last months of Wanda’s illness Mindy and Mitzi took turns coming out twice weekly to administer Wanda’s IVs. Mindy also became supervising nurse when Wanda entered hospice care.


I have to report I developed a very jaundiced view of medicine in general but hasten to add I’ve encountered a number of dedicated, highly principled individuals. But I further enlarge upon this, that if there is any smallest shadow of doubt on the part of a patient, NEVER be hesitant to get a second opinion. In my own personal experience I have avoided some unnecessary medications and more importantly avoided some unnecessary surgery. There are doctors who only fit the patient to preconceived notions or procedures rather than seeing each as a unique case.


In Wanda’s case, unless we saw a highly definitive need to look further we tended to go with the doctor. When one’s spouse is experiencing a terminal disease one tends to do whatever presents itself. That being said, we found at least three relationships that proved to be highly questionable. In describing these I’ll be careful not to identify the individual providers by name or location other than to say all of our experiences were in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.


Case A: Dr. J (MD) We were consulting on a regular basis. He was having Wanda take a regimen of supplements. Their effects were not measurable. On successive visits he would almost every time say “Let’s continue with this; ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ But then he would add on another bottle of pills. My interpretation: Continue these but let’s add more so I can sell more and increase my profits.

Case B: Dr L (MD) His fees were much higher than most but he attempted to justify that by saying his expertise covered many fields, so you don’t need other doctors. My interpretation: ‘just pay me the fees you would have paid others, in addition to my own.’ We ended this relationship when he told Wanda, after she inquired that he was not asking her questions, that because they were both Christian his spirit was communicating directly with her spirit. Goodbye spiritualist!


Case C: Dr T (PhD unknown discipline) He had a number of things he tried; the only one I specifically recall was a device based on the TENS unit (TENS = Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation). After a number of trials of unproven means I finally addressed this to Dr T. His response was that one keeps trying until finding something that works. My interpretation: Yes, that’s okay in a laboratory setting but Wanda should not be a guinea pig.


Summary Case: As


k questions. Explore options. Get second or even third opinions (I got four before prostate surgery). Ask more questions. Remember – it’s your life.


By early summer 2009 Wanda’s condition appeared to be fairly stable, and knowing that she was in good hands I went to Colombia on a 10-day mission trip. Upon my return I was dismayed to see her condition was noticeably deteriorating. We redoubled our efforts with alternatives (principally diet and nutrition) and with the traditional medical efforts overseen by Dr. Olivares. Eventually Dr. O said we were about out of options but there was one more chemo that might work. When we looked at the side effects Wanda said something to the effect that the side effects were worse than the cancer and if she is to die anyway why suffer those effects?


Our grandson Caleb Helms had become engaged to Hope Knight and they were scheduling their wedding for January 9, 2010. In late summer 2009 Wanda’s condition was such that we feared she might not make it to Christmas or even Thanksgiving. Caleb being our first grandchild to get married, and knowing how Wanda would want to witness that, Caleb and Hope very graciously explored moving the date sooner. Too many reservations and arrangements already made prevented changing the date of the wedding.


Having lived in Fort Worth 30 years+ we had many friends and acquaintances in churches, in our seminary connections and in the business world. Led by these, churches all around began praying for Wanda to live to see the wedding.


SHE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT! SHE MADE IT – SHE ATTENDED THE WEDDING!


Post Script 1


Wanda’s funeral was Friday February 12, 2010 at Birchman Baptist Church. It was a cold icy day when one is reluctant to be out. Our grandson Andrew Helms was flying in from South Bend, IN but it happened that D/FW Airport was closed due to weather and the plane was diverted to Houston. Family friend Paul Renfro who had moved from Fort Worth to Houston picked up Andrew at the Houston airport and started driving toward Fort Worth. Family friend James Meintjes drove toward Houston, met Paul halfway and brought Andrew to Fort Worth. The funeral service was delayed only about 15 minutes because of this arrangement.


Post Script 2


Our dear friend Greg Ferguson (a big ol’ bear of a guy with a heart as soft as warm butter) wrote the following eulogy:


I can’t remember for sure but I think it was Will Rogers who said “It won’t be the life of the person that will determine the size of their funeral but rather the weather.” Such was not the case today. The pews at Birchman were three-quarters full as we gathered to celebrate the homegoing of Wanda Weaver.


Diane and I have had the pleasure of knowing the Weaver family for twenty-eight years. Wanda was a servant of the LORD’s to the day she died. The day before cancer took her life, she was consoling her family on the meaning of separation. “Tears should give way to celebration” she told one of her Grandsons. Life should be a platform to testify to the goodness and sovereignty of God.


I had the privilege of being one of her pallbearers today. As her son-in-law preached the funeral I was convicted of my ‘comme-si comme-sa’ desire to stretch my faith to the point of knowing only God could have done the task at hand. I can put my Christian life on cruise control and forget that I serve the God of creation. Mrs. Weaver no doubt had her weak moments but as Jesus was poured into her life, she was pouring it into as many souls as would listen.


At age seventy-two she was still memorizing scripture in order to meditate on God’s word. She was mentoring young mothers at her church. She had begun to write a poem for each of her ten grandchildren. She had a ministry while at her cancer treatments. At her local church she would not miss an opportunity to meet and welcome the visitors. She taught young women to cook and sew as she was teaching them the meaning of being a Godly wife. There was a devotion to her Savior that received her LORD like Mary while serving Him like Martha. We witnessed a life that said Thank You to Jesus with every fiber of her being.


I left today a better person for having known Wanda Weaver; and that only because she took seriously the charge of Christ to follow Him. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. We have less time today than yesterday to impact the world for Christ.


Greg Ferguson

February 2010

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