In Honor Of Joy

Bob Riter is the retired Executive Director of the Cancer Resource Center. His articles about living with cancer appeared regularly in the Ithaca Journal and on OncoLink. He can be reached at bobriter@gmail.com.

A collection of Bob’s columns, When Your Life is Touched by Cancer: Practical Advice and Insights for Patients, Professionals, and Those Who Care, is available in bookstores nationwide and through online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. All royalties from the sale of the book come to the Cancer Resource Center.

Whenever I’m talking with someone living with advanced cancer, I encourage them to understand the reality of their situation but also to move forward with their lives. It’s a difficult balance.

I’m devoting this column to Joy Inman who has maintained that balance better than anyone I know.

Joy is now a resident at the Hospicare Residence. She was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, then had a recurrence, and recently decided that it was time to focus on comfort measures. She told me, “No need to keep on doing chemo if it’s not working.”

That’s a seemingly simple statement, but one that contains considerable wisdom.

Joy’s straight-forward approach also allowed her to make arrangements for her funeral, write her obituary, and make sure that all of her affairs were in order. Her family has a clear path to follow.

She said, “You don’t have cancer yourself. Your whole family is affected.”

Rich, her husband of 58 years, has been her constant companion. Her children, Faye and Dan, are in daily communication. Other members of her extended family are involved on a regular basis as well. They’ve truly been through this together.

I asked Joy if she had advice for others going through cancer. She thought for a moment and replied, “You have to have faith. And you have to be yourself.”

Last year, we installed a new wheelchair lift at the Cancer Resource Center. Joy was the first person to use it. Someone said that we should call it the “Joy Ride” in her honor. We instantly knew that the name was perfect and we had it painted it on the outside of the lift.

At the Cancer Resource Center, we constantly learn from each other. Joy continues to teach us how to live throughout life with honesty and grace.

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Click here to see all of Bob’s columns

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