We believe that our purpose as a business is to do more than just make money and serve our customers. Our greater calling is to serve and give back to the community with the resources we have. In October 2018, we completed our first ever Free Exterior Repaint! Over time we plan to do more and more to show love and support to our community!
A Letter From Our 2018 Recipient
Dear Branden and Josh,
I wanted to write to you both and express my sincere gratitude to you, Perfect Painters, Pipeline Church, and all the others who assisted in getting my house spruced up and painted. Branden is the one who originally spoke with me over the summer and listened to my story. I’ll share some of it with you, although it won’t be quick.
After turning 49, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer on December 22, 2015. I had no true symptoms. I went for my annual check-up, which revealed abnormal bloodwork. This is what spiraled me into the battle with cancer. My tumor was a 4A tumor (largest rating is a 4B), adjacent to but not touching my organs. I was blessed with that positive news. The cancer would have been even worse had it spread to my organs. However, I couldn’t understand how someone who never smoked or drank, who always brought her lunch to school instead of eating the school lunch, who didn’t have any family history of cancer, could get cancer. Yes, I did ask God, “Why me?” It was a difficult Christmas that year. At a time when everyone was celebrating the birth of Jesus, I was immersed in sadness and doubt.
As an Exceptional Education Resource Teacher, this entire situation caused me so much stress. I pulled K-3 students in small groups for 30 minute segments every day. With no warning, I was suddenly having to somehow plan to be out for a few months, when each 30 minute time segment had students with different individual needs. I spent hours after school, until dark, trying to prepare materials for a short term contract teacher, all while still trying to absorb the shock of finding out I had cancer. By mid-January, I was having a colon resection surgery to remove the tumor and affected lymph nodes. By mid-February, I had a chemo port surgically installed in my chest. By the end of February, I was beginning chemo. It was exhausting. I received chemo in a chair for 3 hours, then left with a slow infusion pump attached so that I could receive 2 days of slow infusion chemo through the port in my chest. This happened every 2 weeks for 6 months.
Although my oncologist did not want me to return to work, I couldn’t afford to stay on disability. It meant attempting to live on $1000 a month. So, I returned to work while going through chemo. Although I wouldn’t get paid when I had to stay home for chemo and days when I didn’t feel well, I still made enough money to pay bills by returning to work. As another positive side-note about the Lord’s protection, I was diagnosed in December, but all of the medical expenses began in January. As a result, I met my annual deductible by February. So medical expenses from that point onward were covered. Chemo alone was $8,000 a month, so this was an additional blessing related to timing.
In additional praise to the Lord, I can tell you that I had taught as a homeroom teacher of Grades 4-6 ESE students for years, often with verbally and physically aggressive students. That very year, my principal had moved me to my current position as a Primary Resource Teacher for K-3 ESE students. This was a blessing from God. There is no way I could have returned to work in my previous position of 15 years, especially when I was wearing a chemo pump and dealing with side effects of chemo. My young students were supportive and loving, as well as being inquisitive. My family and coworkers were also supportive and encouraging. It was not easy. Chemo for colon cancer means extreme sensitivity to cold. One of the first things given to me by the chemo nurse was a set of gloves for handling anything cold. I discovered quickly that I needed to have spare gloves everywhere so that I was always prepared. Touching anything cold felt like touching a hot burner on a stove. My skin peeled due to contact with cold things. Returning to work meant wearing gloves almost all the time. Because I returned to work during the few cooler months we have in Florida, metal doorknobs were cold. My keys were cold. Opening car doors at car ramp duty in the morning required gloves due to the cold door handles. Opening cold milk cartons at lunch duty was another challenge. My fingers were peeling and my hands were often numb. I couldn’t eat or drink anything colder than about 70 degrees, so I didn’t drink or eat enough. This is the one time that maybe I should have been a coffee drinker so I would have drunk some warm beverages. I tried hot tea and hot cocoa, but mouth sores from the chemo also made it difficult to eat and drink anything. Several times, I had to go to the hospital and have an hour of IV fluids because I would get dehydrated. Sometimes I arrived at school and had to leave as soon as my morning car duty was done because I wasn’t well enough to stay. I’d sometimes burst into tears with no warning. In spite of all of this, it was a relief that God had blessed me with my position as a resource teacher. It gave me the opportunity to continue trying to work.
To help cope with all of this, I had a huge construction paper cross that I had made and used during a previous challenge in my life. I rehung it on my bedroom wall. On it, I had written Bible verses that comforted me. I looked to that cross as a reminder of His love and the strength He gave me to get through this difficult time. Some favorites were John 14:1, 26-27, and Philippians 4:4-7, 13. I was also reminded during one pastor’s message referencing James 1:2-6, that we are given challenges such as this one so that we continue to lean on Him for strength, retaining our faith. Watching live-streamed church services with my son helped me to still feel connected to my church family. The messages reminded me God was and is in control of my future.
The Lord helps us as no person can. He was there to see me through to the end of the school year, until summer, when I could finally succumb to the effects of chemo and get the rest I so needed. I was fortunate to live close to my parents, with my mom bringing me to chemo appointments. My daughter took a break from college and was able to help care for me during the summer. It has been a slow recovery, but this coming December, I will have new scans and tests. God willing, and with His blessing, I will hopefully be able to announce that I am still in remission. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
In January last year, my daughter asked me if her friend could move in with us. Her friend had lost her mother when she was 8, due to a drug overdose. She was under an extreme amount of stress in her current living situation and was feeling depressed. She needed a new positive living situation and had nowhere to go. In August, I had finally saved enough money to buy this home I’m in now, so I had a spare room for her. She has been living with us ever since. She is going to EFSC and continues to work part-time. I want to support her and my own daughter as they both try to finish college while working part-time.
It is because of these current challenges and so many past challenges that your gift was so unexpected and appreciated. The Lord guides us in all that we do, if we trust in Him. I am grateful to the Lord for leading me to share some of my story with Branden, which led to him sharing it with you. God does have a plan, His plan, as it says in Jeremiah 29:11.
All of you who helped in this gift – you are an example of imitating Christ with your actions. Philippians 2:1-5 addresses you – your ability to look to the interests of others. I’m also reminded of 1 John, Chapter 4, which speaks so much of loving each other as God loved us. Verse 6 reads, “God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in Him.” Thank you for sharing your love, through #LOVETAKEOVER. You are all true blessings of the Spirit. I am grateful to have been the recipient of your love.