Joni Eareckson Tada faces up to breast cancer

Many years ago, mother’s cousin came to visit us from the US and she brought with her a book which she wanted my Mum to read. I read it too and have never forgotten the story of Joni Eareckson Tada, and how one hot July afternoon in 1967, she dove into a shallow lake and her life changed forever. She suffered a spinal cord fracture that left her paralyzed from the neck down, without use of her hands and legs.

In her book, Joni describes vividly how she railed and fought against her fate, begging her friends to help her die, rather than face a lifetime in a wheelchair. Gradually, Joni came to accept her fate and after two years of rehabilitation began working to help others in similar situations. Joni founded Joni and Friends  in 1979, an organization for Christian ministry in the disability community throughout the world. She also became an acclaimed artist,  learning how to use a brush between her teeth, to paint delicate pictures, one of which still hangs in my mother’s house.

In June of this year, Joni was diagnosed with breast cancer and is handling it with her usual grace and fortitude. On her website, Joni said: “For years I have hoped that my quadriplegia might encourage people struggling with cancer… now I have a chance to truly empathize and journey alongside, affirming that God’s grace is always sufficient for whatever the disease or disability.”

Joni is currently undergoing chemotherapy and is progressing well in her treatment. For those who might be interested in following her on her journey and receiving inspiration for their own struggles, I recommend you follow Joni’s blog.

Joni has been an inspiration to me for a very long time and with this new struggle she continues to inspire me greatly. May she be healed and strengthened on her journey.