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CEO Column: A Real Face of Cancer


Gary Smith

May 2017

A Real Face of Cancer

We all know someone who has or has had cancer. If it is someone close, you have shared their physical pain, their mental doubt and the many changes in their lives.

We fly cancer victims to cancer hospitals for treatment. We also help Pilots for Christ with their mission to fly cancer patients to cancer hospitals. (Pilots for Christ is a wonderful organization based in Monroeville that provides assistance to people in need – you should consider a contribution.) We get to know the victims and their families. We share their pain and suffering. We have learned they are not characters in a story. They are real people with real lives, real families and real dreams. It hurts to watch them as their hopes ebb, their dreams die and their families suffer.

This month I share the words of Joshua Adair, the husband of Rhonda Adair, a cancer victim. He sent me the following report after months of treatment – as Rhonda was being transported home from MD Anderson after a last attempt to save her life.   

We came to know Rhonda last fall when she was diagnosed with a rare aggressive cancer. She was a beautiful young woman with a family and a bright future. She was also pregnant. Anna Parker was delivered at 33 weeks of gestation. After undergoing local treatment, Rhonda’s cancer became resistant to current therapy.  She was advised to go home and accept hospice, but Rhonda was a fighter.  She went to MD Anderson to fight for her life on January 1.

Joshua’s words:

“She is finally sleeping with pain under control for now. It was a rough day for her – having to be moved to different locations in order to get home. More movement today than in the last two weeks, it seems. ​       

“The cab ride was awful. We hit at least 20 bumps or potholes, causing intense pain for her. ​The plane ride was great! It got bumpy there for a bit with a weather front coming in, but the pilots that have been flying us are top notch. They really take control as much as they can for the sick passengers they often carry. Those guys really helped my wife and family, and I will never forget them. I won’t mention their names for privacy sake, but they do a tremendous service to people who need. ​

“The future is unknown, yet I am thankful for every second with my wife and girls. I have some of the most wonderful family members who have taken up caring for my two girls, and I could never repay them. I have missed some time with my girls, especially Anna, but I have the rest of the time God gives me to make up for it. ​

“My two sisters-in-law already had enough stress caring for my girls, and I’m so thankful for them. My mother-in-law has been a machine! I can only imagine what she is feeling with her having to go through this. I tell you, if you want something done or need to light a fire under someone, then she’s the one to see. How she kept herself together multitasking for 20 hours a day for months is beyond me. She was a workhorse for this family the last few months and also a rock when we were falling apart. She is a remarkable woman. ​

“My Mom and sister and the rest of the family on both sides who tirelessly worked and organized and handled anything and everything back home – they are saints. We could not have been where we are if not for them. I am surrounded by some special people that I think deserve a lot more credit and praise for all they do than what they normally receive. And the people who came through today in a moment’s notice – who donated and let us borrow things for Rhonda that we needed medically for her – thank you from all of my heart. ​

“I could go on and on about every little gesture of kindness to all of the donations and work put into a living hope, and I am sure I will in time. But this is what is on my mind right now. ​We asked God in the beginning to give us the best chance to fight this. He gave us a sea of people to make it all happen. A sea of hope.”

Despite her family’s and our hopes and prayers, the Lord took Rhonda home. She leaves her husband and two young daughters – one only months old. She leaves a caring and loving family. She leaves dreams of watching her girls grow into young women. She leaves a husband who must raise their girls without her. They will miss her as much as she will miss them. 

The Lord must have a higher plan for her. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt – really badly.

This is the season for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Do what you can. The face of cancer is very real.

I hope you have a good month.



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