“My dearest husband, without you I could not have made this journey. This is by far the one of the scariest thing I could have ever imagined. You gave me the strength to fight for the life we have together. We have cried, laughed, prayed, and remembered what brought us together in the beginning. You have nursed and took care of me like a child without a hesitation. We have grown to become the couple and family God intended us to be. You are my rock and my life. I love you more than words can say. Forever will not be long enough and we know as long as we have each other we can conquer any battle. All my love now and forever.”
Inspirational messages like the above passage to her husband Buck Cox, and an unbelievably positive attitude and determination while battling breast cancer have inspired all those who know Stacy Cox. It also made her an easy choice for the Christian Family Fun Day committee when choosing someone to serve as Grand Marshal for the parade to kick off this year’s event Sept. 21 in Hillsville.
“The reason we picked Stacy Cox as the Grand Marshal is because of the inspiration that she has been during her battle with cancer. I would get on Facebook some mornings and not feel good and she would put a status up and it would change my whole day,” said Richard Edwards, founder of the Christian Family Fun Day. “I feel like she gives a message of Faith and hope to others through GOD. It inspired others as well.”
Stacy Cox was diagnosed with breast cancer on January 7 of this year. Originally thinking she just had a small tumor with no lymph node involvement, surgeons found Cox actually had a tumor the size of a baseball. A total of 17 lymph nodes were removed, 14 of which came back positive. As Cox put it, the situation went from zero to 60 in a matter of a few hours.
Coming to terms with having to have chemotherapy, radiation and the severity of the cancer was not easy, but Stacy said the family made it through by putting everything in the hands of God.
“It was funny. They, of course, want to ask if you if want the percentages as far as it relates in their little number system to every other patient that has breast cancer,” she said. “We told them from the beginning that was not any of our concern, the good Lord had our back and that it would be the way he meant it to be. So we just tried to stay positive because otherwise it would have driven you crazy.”
Cox said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that came in from friends and family, their church at Sky View Missionary Baptist, and the community. The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, where her husband Buck is employed, has held a hot dog benefit sale for the family.
“I have a basket of cards that is in the hundreds. And we had so many people praying for us we knew it would be okay,” Cox said. “God will always provide what you need and he will always take care of you no matter what. It has just been very humbling, the support and the gifts that people have given to us.”
In one way, the cancer has even been good Cox said, as it has taught her and her husband Buck, and their two daughters, to appreciate the important things in life. It would be understandable for most people in her situation to be upset or mad, but that wouldn’t help anything, she said.
“You have to be (positive) because otherwise it would drive you crazy. I have two teenagers, ages 12 and 14, that can’t see momma lying around. They don’t need that, Buck doesn’t need that and it doesn’t get you anywhere,” Cox said. “I have seen in getting treatment there is people a whole lot worse than I am. People that have had cancer three different times and they are here kicking and fighting and doing what they need to do to go one more day, so I don’t feel like I have a right to complain and fuss too much. Several people have said, ‘I could not have done it.’ And my response to that is, ‘You have been presented with this or this. You can get through this or you can die’. You do that and get through it and realize along the way that being mad about it doesn’t get you anywhere. At the end you feel a lot worse unless you just say, ‘Alright, this is what I was dealt and there has to be some reason I was dealt this, and I am going to make the best of it.’ That was the only way I could look at it because otherwise I would have wallowed in self-pity and not have gotten through it.”
To the best of their knowledge, surgeons removed every last bit of cancer she had. Cox finished her radiation treatments Sept. 6. Unless something unforeseeable happens, she won’t have to go back. Her medical oncologist doesn’t think she will even need regular scans at this point.
While maintaining an upbeat attitude, Cox believes God has continued to keep his hand on the family. For instance, this spring, her husband and two daughters both came down with a terrible chest cold during her chemo. Even during that vulnerable time when getting sick was not an option, she made it through without catching a cold. And while chemo generally causes most people to be sick anyway, Cox said she never really had any ill effects from it, despite almost always having “the most bizarre reactions to any medicine.”
And there was the matter of her job at Laurel Elementary School, where she worked through AmeriCorps. While she was told everybody is turned down for temporary disability in cases such as hers, she decided to go ahead and apply after she had her surgery.
“Buck wasn’t worried about it. He said the good Lord always provides. Don’t worry about it,” she said. “In April, I get this call one day from the Social Security office. She said, ‘I am calling to let you know the benefits have been approved and I just need to verify your information.’ I said, ‘WHAT?’ She said, ‘We have verified your claim and you will start receiving benefits in July.’”
Cox said she began to cry and the lady asked her why.
“I said, ‘I never dreamed in 100 years that this would work out.’ Buck had already talked to a panel and they said you will be denied. We talked to a lawyer friend who said you won’t be approved, no one is ever approved,” Cox said. “The lady said, ‘When did you apply?’ I said, ‘February.’ It was a miracle. She said she had never known anyone in history to be approved for disability in two months. She said usually it is years, and even then you have to have a lawyer. She said, ‘I can’t understand it and can’t honestly believe it.’ And I said, ‘You know what, that is just the good Lord taking care of us.’”
Cox said she was inspired by older cancer patients she ran into at the chemotherapy clinic in Mount Airy. Even though she was horrified at first to be one of the few young people there, she quickly saw many of them were full of spunk, making her embarrassed to feel that way. As she progressed through her treatments, she tried to help others going through the same thing.
“A lot of the women I was seeing there had much less severe cases. They were as upset about it as I was probably at the beginning, but were mad they were there getting radiation therapy, and it was the worst thing that could ever happen. I would tell them, ‘You don’t have any alternatives. This is saving your life,’” Cox said. “By the time I left there, several women said, ‘You know what, I went home last night and you have been through so much and you are still smiling. You know what, I have not been through anything.’”
The Christian Family Fun Day Parade will begin Saturday with a 14-mile escort for Cana/Mount Airy participants from St. Paul School by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department. The police escort will leave the school at 9 a.m. Line up for the parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the Carroll County Government Complex on Pine Street/Edgewood Drive. The parade will start at 10:30 a.m. from that point and will go to the Hillsville VFW.
Action then moves to the Hillsville VFW, which will host events from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Everything is free, with the exception of the event T-shirts. Music and dancing will play a large role in the celebration with acts performing on five stages.
In addition, there will be food, games, hayrides, bouncy cages, a classic car and motorcycle cruise-in, and the Twin County Funerals balloon launch has increased from 500 last year to 1,000 this time around. Youth groups will have a chance to win prizes, one as high as $300, by signing in at the registration tent.