One woman’s journey meant asking for help
By Pamela A. Keene
Photos courtesy Beth Kendrick
Beth Kendrick is a survivor. Following a divorce from her husband of 21 years, she and her daughter Lindsey moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Northeast Georgia for a fresh start five years ago. She’d had a successful career in marketing came to Georgia for a good job, a positive career move.
“We were just getting back on our feet and I had a great job in marketing, then I found out that I had ovarian cancer and my life changed,” says Beth, who was diagnosed in June 2017. “I lost my job, my insurance, my hair, my health, my financial security and, well, it was a real test of my faith.”
Beth describes her life before cancer. “I had a great career and had good savings for retirement. Lindsey had been in high school here for a couple of years and we both were building friendships and making our lives here. But weeks before my surgery to remove a suspicious cyst, I was let go from my job. Four weeks later I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Here I was, a single mom, with no job, a high-school daughter and facing surgery and multiple medical procedures.”
Faced with mounting medical expenses and limited extended health insurance coverage from her former employer, Beth cashed in her retirement savings to pay bills. “I could only pay what was necessary, and so my credit was affected,” she says. “Finally, I decided that I had to apply for food stamps. I was already receiving unemployment benefits. I was so embarrassed.”
Beth also connected with several groups that offer help to cancer patients, including the Partnership for Gynecological Support, a Hall County-based group founded by 14-year ovarian cancer survivor Sue Sigmon-Nosach. “The Partnership helps women going through chemo for gynecological cancers by providing Kroger gift cards for groceries,” Beth says. “That help was a lifeline for us. We went to the Salvation Army, too, a group that I donated to when I lived in Charlotte; they actually paid for a month’s rent for us. And other groups stepped up, too, like Thumbs Up Mission here in Gainesville. I don’t know what Lindsey and I would have done without them, because every one of them was such a blessing.”
As she finished 18 weekly sessions of chemotherapy in midDecember, Christmas looked bleak. “I wanted so much to be able to give Lindsey a good Christmas, and like an answered prayer, we were selected by 104.7 The Fish radio station to be included in their Angel Tree. A family adopted us so that we could have Christmas. I found out later that Lindsey had applied because she didn’t want me to worry about the holidays last year. She’s been right by my side, taking me to weekly chemo and doing everything she can. I’m so proud of her.”
All along, Beth searched for jobs, but the side effects of the chemo kept her close to home. Once her chemo was complete in December, Beth redoubled her search. “I finally felt like I had the energy to send out resumes, respond to job listings and go to interviews,” she says.
Through an online job recruiter she landed at MarineMax on Lake Lanier as the company’s marketing and events coordinator. She handles promotions, special events, trade shows, social and print media. She’s worked there since March, splitting her time between MarineMax’s Cumming and Buford locations.
“Now I’m doing what I love, working with people, being around boats and the water and my life is back on track. And God is giving me a chance to share my story, be able to increase awareness of ovarian cancer and give back again. It was a very dark time, but through it all I can say that I am truly blessed. And my faith in God is stronger than ever.”
Beth has now been cancer-free for 15 months. She’s openly sharing the story of her journey so that others can be encouraged.
“The hardest part was asking for help,” she says. “I was always the person who gave to these types of organizations and volunteered my time and experience. I never in a million years thought that I’d be on the receiving end of their work. Now, I don’t want to waste my cancer. I want to share my experiences so that people will know that help is just an ‘ask’ away and that there’s no shame in seeking help. It’s okay to struggle, but just hang in there.”
How You Can Help
September is ovarian cancer awareness month. The Partnership for Gynecological Cancer Support is hosting its annual fund-raiser and silent auction, Toast to Teal, on Sunday, September 30, at Chattahoochee Country Club. Ms. International 2017 Nova Pearson Kopp will be the event’s Mistress of Ceremonies. The event is open to the public; tickets are $50 per person.
Since it was founded in 2013, the Partnership has helped more than 810 women by providing financial support, lodging on the night before their surgeries if they are from out of town, and promoting awareness of gynecological cancers.
For more information about The Partnership for Gynecological Support or to donate, visit www.supportgc.org.