‘Angelic Warriors’ inspire hope among cancer survivors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Sharing their faith and supporting one another, a group of Natchez breast cancer survivors join forces to fight battles and inspire hope.

They are God’s Angelic Warriors, and their numbers are growing. Their focus remains the same, however. And today, from 3 to 4 p.m., the women will host a fund-raising tea at Holy Family Catholic School Hall, with money going to the annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life held in May. The invitation is open to the community.

&uot;When you hear the big ‘C’ word, you become terrified,&uot; said Lillian Edney, whose cancer was diagnosed early in 2000 and who today has resumed her normal life, including the gardening she loves dearly.

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Determined to defeat the cancer, she gained a reputation among the medical community treating her. &uot;They would say, ‘Here comes Mrs. Positive.’&uot;

She laughed, acknowledging they were on target with her. &uot;I was determined not to let it get me down,&uot; she said.

Her friends called, especially Demetria Reed, and asked her to join God’s Angelic Warriors, founded by Reed in the 1990s. She declined the invitations at first.

&uot;I was selfish. I really was. I wanted to spend that time focusing on getting well,&uot; she said. &uot;My faith helped me to get through it.&uot;

When she did join the group, she became one of its most active members, this year taking charge of today’s fund raiser.

Barbara Washington said the love and support shown among the group has been a boost to her spirits. She, too is a survivor, having been diagnosed with cancer in 1990. &uot;I prayed a lot,&uot; she said.

Members of the group vary in age and in the stages of their illness. Some are long-time survivors, some are still in treatment and some have faced the trauma of re-occurrence.

&uot;We put it in God’s hands,&uot; Edney said. &uot;We try to eat well, take care of ourselves and pray for the best.&uot;

Every member of the group has a special person who is a kind of partner, always available for conversation and encouragement.

&uot;A card would always come on the day when I was down,&uot; Washington said. Edney agreed, calling it &uot;God’s work.&uot;

Members of the group come from different denominations and different age groups. Together, they draw nearer to God with meditations and devotions at the monthly meetings.

Experiencing the dreaded cancer has changed their lives, both women said. &uot;It has made me closer to God and it has made me be kinder to my neighbors,&uot; Washington said.

Edney, retired from a busy teaching schedule, began to think of ways to help others. &uot;Before my diagnosis, I was not a volunteer. Now I am,&uot; she said. &uot;You begin to value life more and you want to interact more with your family and not miss a thing. Life is so precious and can be taken away at any moment.&uot;

Last year, the tea drew about 80 people. The Warriors hope to have at least that many today. And they hope guests will come with generous checks made out to the American Cancer Society.