Jump to content

'She can give hope'


Recommended Posts

http://www.jdnews.com/SiteProcessor.cfm ... ction=News

February 11,2007


Daily News Staff

David Graves knows his younger sister is a pillar of strength, an example of why people should have hope and a testament to the power of faith.

But if he relies on science, Graves, 52, of Jacksonville also knows the cancer invading Gloria Hamer's body comes with a 2-percent survival rate. Still the woman who is 11 months his junior doesn't bother with statistics.

She's battled cancer since 1996. First it attacked her left breast. She sought treatment and fought for her life. It showed up again in a lump under her right arm.

"At one point, I didn't even want to lay down, I feared death so bad," Hamer said. "It was knocking on my door. I thought, 'why did it have to be me?'"

She watched too many relatives on her father's side, especially aunts diagnosed with breast cancer, die from the disease. She dug deep, relying on her spirituality to help with the fight.

"I refused to let the thing I feared - cancer and death - enter my mind," she said. "I kicked it out with my faith in God. I was going to be an overcomer. I was determined."

Cancer had a different plan.

She stopped listening

Last summer, lesions appeared on Gloria Hamer's lung. By that time, the stage-four lung cancer had already metastasized to her brain. That's when doctors started estimating how much time Hamer had left.

She stopped listening. She is done with science.

"I'm determined to live as long as I want," she said. "Nobody can put a date on how long I am going to live."

There are invasive surgeries and medications to stop the growth of the tumors on her brain. She's already been through gamma knife surgery and has taken pills that were so strong her face and body broke out into a painful rash.

None of it came with a guarantee. At most, doctors have said to her, they would prolong her life for a little while.

Hamer is willing to just take her chances.

"Why should I give up what I already have and have no life at all," she said.

She'd rather take a different approach - one she believes she can truly put her trust in.

"She's going to step out in faith," Graves said and plans to stand beside his only sister for the entire ride.

He admits he has mixed emotions. He knows his sister has a fatal disease. He's up on the studies and the statistics. But he looks over at the woman he grew up with - the person who shares his blood - and it's not death he's thinking about.

"She has life - life abundantly," he said.

That's not an option

A couple of months ago, David Graves might have told a different story. At the time, his sister was living alone in her home in Cleveland, firm in cancer's grip. She suffered a mild stroke during the summer, which created some paralysis on her left side. Seizures and tremors started showing up with barely a moment's notice.

Overcome with weakness, Hamer made a phone call to her mother in Tulsa, Okla.

"I'm ready to go to a nursing home," she told her mother - words that their mother quickly repeated to Graves.

"When I heard that," Graves said, still reeling from the idea that his sister felt so bad she was ready to move into a nursing home, "I thought that's just not an option. You have a family that loves you."

He got in his van and drove up to Ohio in late November and stayed with his sister through December. It was his second extended stay since the lung cancer was diagnosed in July 2006.

"It was so bad I felt like crying," Graves said, remembering his sister's condition when he arrived on her doorstep.

Hamer didn't have any transportation so Graves took her back and forth to appointments with doctors. The retired Marine gunnery sergeant wrote everything on a calendar to make sure she took her medicine on time.

"Things were structured," he said.

Hamer, who is divorced and the mother of four children, was used to doing things for herself. Even if she couldn't, she hesitated to ask for help. She didn't want to be a burden on her older brother.

He wanted none of that.

"I knew how stubborn she was," he said. "I would sleep right next to her so if she had a tremor or a seizure, I was Johnny on the spot."

Hamer's friends were amazed that Graves was so willing to do so much for his sister.

"They would say, 'You are so blessed. My brother lives in the same town and he doesn't even call,'" said Hamer, who has two younger brothers as well and didn't view Graves' actions as unusual.

"My brothers have always been there for me. That's how my mother raised them," she said.

'I'm still here'

Hamer's health and mobility improved.

Still, Graves refused to leave her. In mid-January, he brought her to Jacksonville to live with his family. He wants to make sure her every need is met.

"No one can take care of you better than family," he said. "No one can love you like you should be loved like family. I think we should make the time for family because family is important."

His sister is grateful for his help.

"If I could give him the keys to the city, I would give them to him," she said but still isn't sure how long she will remain in Jacksonville. "He hasn't asked me for anything."

She wishes she had the money to replace his old van. He doesn't want anything, except to give his little sister a chance to live and share that life with others.

"What I want for her - while she still has life and breath in her body - I want her to be a witness to what God has done for her," Graves said. "I want her to sing, teach and minister to those who have no hope. Even while she is going through it, she can give hope to someone who has no hope."

She hears her brother and knows she has something to offer others.

"I want to be an example," Hamer said. "I have had I don't know how many mammograms. I can't count the number of scars on my body, and I'm still here. I can't give no praise or glory to no man - doctor or surgeon - and to no drug and I'm still here."

Contact staff writer Roselee Papandrea at rpapandrea@freedomenc.com or at 353-1171, ext. 238.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.