Let me begin by saying that I’m not one who has heroes. No matter your position, I know we all put our pants on one leg at a time. We are all flawed human beings and we all sin and fall short of the glory of God every day. But the other day, the world lost a true hero – my dear friend, Joy Weiner.
I met Joy in 2011, and first on the telephone. It was a while before we were able to meet in person. She had been fighting cancer since 2002, and was taking chemo treatments, working a full-time job, and doing what she could to further conservative principles and her love for Jesus throughout Brazoria County and all of Texas. I ran across an article on her courage that was published in October 2014. I am including a couple of excerpts here, to let you know of her struggles and her courage.
“Then came a surgery to insert a port of catheter for intense chemotherapy sessions to flow in my veins. Then the hair loss, the side effects, depression, and trying my best to keep up with life and work.” She said the side effects from cancer treatments made life difficult for both her and her family. “Brain fog is very common as a side effect of chemotherapy and can linger long after the treatment stops,” she said. “There were times I would stare at my husband and could not remember his name.” But the brain fog lifted in the months after the chemotherapy treatments were complete. “God was with me, along with my husband and family and my church family and close friends. Without my support team, I don’t know how we could have managed,” she said. “There were so many doctor appointments, lab work to regularly obtain, appointments with a nutritionist. We needed help with all these appointments and both of us trying to work as well. “
“I like to describe this journey as living life as if the wolf is at your door. As time goes on and you start not focusing on the disease so much, you can tell yourself the wolf is in the next county, then the next state,” she said. But at the five-year-mark, Weiner found the wolf was once again at her door. “In February 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer again and another mastectomy was performed. Soon after though, tests revealed Weiner now had cervix and uterine cancer. “About a year later I was told the cancer was no longer curable but treatable because it had metastased to the bone. I broke down at that point.”
Now most people who spent years battling cancer would be doing all they could do to medically fight the cancer and try to work. Not Joy – here’s where I want to tell you why she is my hero. Not only did she fight cancer – she also volunteered as a cancer coach for women who were feeling fearful or overwhelmed. Joy Weiner embraced the Scripture in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Anyone who spent more than a few minutes with Joy would understand that her first priority was serving our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In February 2015 I went to see my friend in the hospital. This was just one day after learning that her cancer had metastasized to her brain. She was understandably frightened. I went to comfort her, to show my love and support. Instead after our conversation turned from politics, we dug deep into the Bible. Here my friend was frightened and yet she never waivered her focus from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Literally, lying in her hospital bed she opened her Bible and ministered to me and her roommate – and she invited in hospital personnel as well! It was one of the most amazing evenings I’ve ever spent.
I have been a Christian since I was 11. But that night as my ailing friend shared her love for Christ and for all of us, I rededicated my life to Christ. A few months later I was re-baptized. She never let what was happening to her body (and her mind with the brain tumor and chemo treatments) take the focus off of her personal Lord and Savior. My friend, Joy Weiner, continued to share the gospel in every situation. And she will always be my hero, my friend, my compatriot and my sister-in-Christ.
Sometimes we wonder why God allows us to experience pain, illness, loss and suffering. I believe that He allows circumstances to occur that if we continue to lean on Him and not our own devices (Prov. 3:5-6), His glory will shine through. If we are faithful, we allow Him to work through us to advance the Kingdom of God. Perhaps hospital staff along the way accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior because of Joy’s faithfulness to our Lord. He doesn’t promise us an easy road, but instead promises He will be with us through it all. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)