Fight the Good Fight
Armed with the unfailing strength and support of their communities, these cancer fighters and survivors share how they chose courage when the odds were against them.
When May began, everything was normal.
Then came a hardness. “That’s when things went south.”
Emily Horton worked as a hairstylist alongside her husband, Rob, at ROBS at Drayton Tower when she felt a lump in her left breast. She went to her OBGYN who scheduled her for a mammogram and ultrasound. After both were complete, Horton’s radiologist called her back in for a biopsy “to make sure” the reports were accurate.
Horton, scared but prepared with support from the presence of her husband, returned to her doctor post-biopsy to hear the pathology report results. Her doctor confirmed the worst.
Then came numbness.
“So many things run through your mind,” Horton recalls upon hearing she had breast cancer. “At first, I didn’t even know what to think. I couldn’t feel anything.”
The meaning of those three words, “You have cancer,” seemed to contradict the fact Horton was 36-years-old and “super healthy.” She felt no pain, exhaustion, or any other symptom she assumed foreshadowed a cancer diagnosis.
Following that fateful appointment this past May, Horton continued working at ROBS while undergoing six rounds of chemotherapy. October brought welcome news: her tumors were shrinking and her body was responding well to medication. Now finished with chemo, Horton calls her battle against cancer an “ongoing process” but one that’s looking up.
“I would have chemo one week, and then for that whole week I would feel pretty bad,” she explains. “I wouldn’t be able to work, because my immune system would be down. I was working about one third of what I used to work. I still worked but not at the capacity I was working before.”
Horton recently went to Atlanta for an MRI and bone scan, both of which determine how her body is recovering post-chemo.
“It’s a lot,” she admits. “I can’t let myself go to that place of thinking ‘What if, what if, what if,’ because I feel like I won’t ever get out of that place. I choose to look at the positives in the situation. It’s brought me people who are so dear to my heart. Friends have gotten closer and I’ve made friends with people I wasn’t friends with before. I just try to look at the silver lining of everything.”
Kyle's leap of faith
When Kyle Garrison needs a moment with God, he makes his way to the Tybee Island pier, preferably on a blustery day when he can be alone. That was the case in March 2012, when Garrison was going through the greatest trial of his life.
Doctors had found a tumor the size of a golf ball on his left temporal lobe, and although it was benign, it was wrapped around his brain like a vine and causing debilitating headaches with the potential for more serious side effects. Garrison didn’t have health insurance, so he needed to raise $100,000 to pay for surgery, and he needed it yesterday.
Years earlier, Garrison had given up a full ride to the University of Georgia on a pre-med scholarship because he was called to the ministry. Now he was making about $17,000 a year, and he was sitting on the pier angry and confused.
”It was just me and Him under the stars and I was kinda yelling at him and crying, saying ‘I gave this up for you, why aren’t you doing anything for me?,’” Garrison recalls.
God spoke to him in that moment and reminded him that he needed to tithe 10 percent to the church. He wrote his first tithe check that week, and within three months he had raised the money needed for his surgery.
The surgery was expected to require a six-month recovery process, but Garrison was back at the pulpit and playing piano within three weeks. Two years later, he founded Relentless Church in Savannah.
He’s not angry anymore, and he never misses a tithe check. •