By Barb Arland-Fye
Our monthly Catholic Messenger staff meeting began last week with a surprise for me: the distribution of yellow bracelets inscribed with the words: “One Tough Chick, Barb Strong.” All six of us put on our bracelets and then recited the opening prayer for our meeting. I couldn’t have been more touched!
The meeting took place the day before my first chemotherapy treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where I will commute monthly for treatment of follicular lymphoma. The “One Tough Chick” slogan dates back to an earlier health challenge when I sustained a spiral fracture of the right tibia and fibula while running. At that time, my friend Jennifer presented me with a cute button featuring a cartoon chicken around which the phrase “One Tough Chick” appeared. Last summer, I gave that treasured button to my sister-in-law Carleen, a cancer survivor who truly is one tough chick!
Each member of our staff has been impacted by a loved one’s journey with cancer or other serious illness. Their compassion and solidarity, demonstrated in the distribution of the bracelets to everyone at diocesan headquarters who wanted one, uplifted me. So, too, have the prayers, cards, letters and Facebook posts from friends, colleagues and readers.
Jennifer, meanwhile, searched for another “One Tough Chick” button without success. Instead, she presented me with a bracelet that reads “Have Faith.” I wore each bracelet to the first chemo treatments, which took place Jan. 25 and 26. The treatments went so smoothly that I convinced myself this journey wouldn’t be so tough. Then the drugs kicked in, and the “One Tough Chick” moniker did not apply to me in the days that followed.
Someone advised me that cancer would be a humbling experience, and I’m discovering it is. Whispers of doubt seemed to rise with each wave of nausea, and so did the lyrics to Tommy Roe’s rock classic “Dizzy.” The bracelets serve as a reminder that I need to “Have Faith” in order to be “One Tough Chick.” I called my sister-in-law for a pep talk. She assured me of her continuing prayers and expressed confidence that I’ll get over the hump, just as she did.
Psalm 131 seems apropos:
“Lord, my heart is not proud;
nor are my eyes haughty.
I do not busy myself with great matters,
with things too sublime for me.
Rather, I have stilled my soul,
hushed it like a weaned child on its mother’s lap,
so is my soul within me.
Israel, hope in the Lord,
now and forever.
I’m grateful for my work at The Catholic Messenger, which reinforces my hope in the Lord.
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at email@example.com.)