Duane and his wife Linda had been a part of our church home fellowship for the past year and a half. Nicknamed “Tree” because of his ability to reach to the heavens to catch a ball, Duane, a 6-foot, 5-inch world champion Over the Line player was considered a legend among his peers. He was also the father of two great kids, and a loving husband.
A few months back, Duane complained of intense stomach pain and was taken to the emergency room. Three days later he was diagnosed with cancer in multiple organs and three weeks later he entered into eternity.
As Duane was battling cancer, family, friends, co-workers and teammates descended upon Grossmont Hospital daily with profound disbelief. This gentle giant was slipping away before our eyes and, despite our cries and objections, fundraisers and prayer vigils, he left us.
To watch the strength and peace Linda displayed was a supernatural gift. We felt honored to be in her presence. The memorial was like no other; loss and comfort, victory and hope. Duane knew his Savior and we would see him one day. The sting of death would be overcome with unimaginable joy, but for now we were all stunned and hurting.
Part of my therapy was working on a Refreshed column about Duane’s journey. I wanted to honor the impact he had on so many lives and proclaim the peace I witnessed amid chaos.
While writing the story, I was also busy packing for a trip to India with a dear friend, a trip 10 years in the making. The hotels were reserved, the plane tickets purchased.
I had been experiencing some fatigue, a little bloating and a few other minor symptoms so I decided to see my gynecologist. Nothing terrible I thought, but after a few tests, it was.
“Kim you have uterine cancer,” my doctor said. She said I needed to see a gynecological oncologist right away and start a game plan. India and my article were not to be.
The raw memory of Duane’s homecoming just a few weeks before flashed through my mind. I was not ready to leave this earth. I wanted to see my nieces get married and have kids, continue in ministry and be with our parents as they aged.
When my husband Brandon and I arrived at my parents’ home, we explained the situation, sobbed, then held each other tightly. My Dad said, “We need to pray right now.” The peace of God surrounded us as we called on Him. I remember asking the Lord to let me see the blessings in this serious battle, and to be very real to me every minute as I clung to Him for strength.
Mounting a fight
With incredible speed, we were setting up doctor’s appointments, contacting our insurance company and sharing the news with close friends. Dr. Afshin Bahador, a well-respected gynecological oncologist, was highly recommended and we were in his office that week. I had so many questions. I needed time to do research! He and his staff were compassionate and caring, sure to answer every question and address every concern. In my case, I needed surgery, and a full hysterectomy was scheduled.
I found my relationship with the Lord grew deeper and richer as I immersed myself in reading the Psalms. My husband would wake up in the early morning hours and lay hands on me to pray. He gave me assurance we would fight this together and he would be by my side, a vow we had taken on our wedding day. I found I needed time to grieve the loss of my own health. My body was at war inside, cancer cells were dividing and I had little control.
The morning of my surgery, my family and friends took over the waiting room at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital.
I clenched the handmade quilt my support group made me and I was ready for battle.
Dr. Bahador joined us all in prayer and my sister-in-law, a nurse there, held my hand as I went under.
God chose to spare my life that day and the surgery was a success. The love, well-wishes and support was overwhelming. My healing was rapid and I’m back doing what I was meant to do in life; sharing hope and giving encouragement.
Psalm’s 90:12 reads: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” May you thrive as well, and experience the fullness of grace as you seek Him first!
— by Kimberly Ruby
Ruby is a certified nutritionist at University Compounding Pharmacy, has been in the wellness industry for more than 20 years. She has been facilitating one of the longest-running weight management support groups in the nation, meeting weekly in the North County for 10 years. Her health segments have appeared on several local news channels.