DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — Cynthia Ford isn’t sure she’s qualified to talk about the upcoming “Superheroes Wanted” Survivors’ Dinner for area cancer survivors.
“I’m not really a survivor yet,” the 77-year-old said. “I’m still fighting cancer. This is my third time.”
Well, she clarified, it’s the same cancer — metastatic colon cancer — which doctors told her was gone after the removal of part of her colon and later part of her liver, only to re-emerge. Now, after six years of fighting the cancer, it’s worked its way into her lungs.
After 63 chemotherapy treatments, Ford still isn’t ready to give up or throw in the towel.
“I don’t dwell on it,” Ford said. “I’m not a ‘woe-is-me’ kind of person.’”
Despite her reluctancy to call herself a survivor, she’s the type of person from whom others can learn a thing or two when it comes to approaching life. And to be sure, Ford talks about life, not about cancer.
“I just love life, and that’s all there is to it,” Ford said.
She credits her mother and grandmother with that life-loving attitude. Even though both died of cancer, Ford said they handled everything with joy and laughter.
Ford, who spent many years traveling around the world as a military spouse (her husband has since passed away), has finally settled down a bit and “retired,” if you can call it that. She gave her house to one of her children and lives in her RV, which is set up at Pedernales Falls State Park.
She’s a regular volunteer at the park, where one of her jobs includes cleaning the bathrooms. That’s right: This 77-year-old woman with cancer snaps on her gloves, rolls up her sleeves and cleans potties.
“You know, I have six kids, so there’s nothing I haven’t seen,” Ford said with a laugh.
While cleaning restrooms might not rank high on a person’s retirement list, Ford enjoys the people she meets and works with. Every afternoon, the volunteers gather, share stories — some are true, some maybe not as much — and laugh. It’s one of the things to which Ford looks forward. And it’s a chance for her to tell one of her litany of jokes.
“I just love to see people laugh and love to make them smile,” she said. “And I’ve got a lot of jokes to tell.”
It’s this love of life she believes helps her fight cancer.
“Your attitude has so much to do with your healing,” Ford added. “Whenever I go in for my chemo treatments, my doctor asks me how I feel and I say, ‘I feel great.’ And sometimes, he’s a bit surprised, but I say it because I do feel great.”
During her chemo treatments, the nurses sometime ask her to talk with one of the newly diagnosed cancer patients. Ford noted one was a younger woman.
“I know it’s hard to hear those words ‘you have cancer’ for people,” she said. “But I told this young girl that, ‘Look at me. I’m still here, and I still see life as a joy. You’re young and have so much to look forward to and live for, so focus on those things and the joys of life.’”
Though she’s fought cancer going on six years now, Ford still hesitates at claiming “cancer survivor” status. But she’s looking forward to the “Superheroes Wanted” Survivors’ Dinner on April 16 at Lakeside Pavilion, 307 Buena Vista Drive in Marble Falls.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Ford said. “I think it’s important to get together with other people who have gone through cancer because you can learn from them. You can hear how they got through it.”
The event is 6:30-8:30 p.m. and is free to Highland Lakes cancer survivors and one guest each. It’s a night of music, food, fun, laughter and stories — not necessarily cancer stories.
The event includes two things Ford loves: talking and laughing. After all, this is a woman who has a shirt that reads, “Help. I’ve started talking and I can’t shut up.”
“And I’ll be bringing my jokes if anybody wants to hear them,” she added with a laugh.
Survivors may register by stopping by Texas Oncology or Texas Home Health, which are adjacent to each other at 1100 Mission Hills Drive in Marble Falls, or by calling (830) 798-0149 or (830) 798-8272.