A Person With Heart
In my twenty-six years as a free lance writer, I have worked for newspapers, magazines, Internet sites and businesses of every imaginable perspective.
I have reviewed the famous, scorned the political, embarrassed my family and even interviewed a dog! Yet along my journalistic journey there have been several profile interviews that remain stirringly engraved within my memory. For not only did the character of those specific individuals impress me, they ultimately impacted my life.
Lynn R. Taylor is one such extraordinary person.
Born in Buffalo, New York, on May 2, 1962, Lynn Taylor was just like all the other kids in her East Side, inner city neighborhood. That is until, at age three, she was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, a cancer of the kidneys. Given a "no-chance" prognosis, doctors completely removed one of Lynn's kidneys and part of another. They then predicted that if she survived to the age of five, she might possibly make ten.
In the decade that followed, despite enduring chemotherapy, radiation and dye tests to which she was allergic, Lynn Taylor met and surpassed all medical experts' gloom-and-doom prognoses. By age fourteen she was in full remission, by seventeen, she was considered cured. Yet in this case, Lynn's medical history was far from closed.
Over the next twenty-three years, Lynn earned her undergraduate degree and masters in economics and assumed the role of college educator.
Subsequently, the respected instructor was awarded a grant to study at the University of Sussex in England. While there, she was invited to teach and simultaneously earned her second masters degree.
Upon returning to Buffalo, the accomplished young woman engaged in a variety of high level jobs, culminating in her appointment as head of Multicultural Affairs at a local college. While Lynn's high level of professional success was most rewarding, it stood in stark contrast to her personal life which was whirling medically out-of-control.
Between 1979 and 2002, doctors diagnosed Lynn with six individual cases of cancer. As with her youthful tumor attack, four of the cancers responded to treatment and were declared in remission. However, in the last eighteen months, the lung cancer, newly appeared, and the breast and thyroid cancers which have re-appeared, have not responded in kind. Rather, they are invasively attempting to conquer Lynn's body.
For the second time in her forty years, doctors have prophesied a limited life span for this resilient woman. Yet with this forecast, they have greatly shortened the time frame from years to months.
To add to the shock of their deadly diagnosis, doctors have told Lynn that there are indications that her right breast, liver, one remaining kidney and adrenal gland are all infected with malignancies. The most inconceivable aspect of this medical nightmare being that doctors believe none of the cancers are metastic. That is, they are not connected to, nor have spread as a result of, one another.
Lynn's attitude about the cancerous war raging within her is simple and forthright. She acknowledges the short life term doctors have predicted. She places no blame for her circumstance. She professes a one hundred percent acceptance of her future, trusting in God. The only distraction to her compliant mindset is that she would like to know why so many cancers have independently invaded her body? It is a question for which she is still awaiting an answer.
In the meantime, Lynn strives to sustain a positive attitude. Her days are spent interacting with the college students she so passionately cares about. Her nights are spent trying to manage an ever-rising mountain of medical bills. Daily, she struggles to regain the strength that the cancers have stolen with support from her best friend/companion Nehemiah, a three-year old Pom-a-Poo.
This gutsy woman fears that her ebbing energy level is a warning knell that soon she will be physically unable to perform her job. It is a prospect she abhors. Yet in typical fashion, Lynn has recently added a new activity to her schedule -- that of cancer hospital volunteer.
It is her wish to provide living proof to patients that cancer is not necessarily a death sentence but rather, as she has evidenced, something to overcome, despite any medical prognoses.
Lynn has positively determined that her ultimate life goal is to spend the rest of her days offering such hope. She dreams of writing a book to reach those she won't have the opportunity to speak to in the hospital, at school, or in her church.
In her own words, "At this point I don't know if I'm going to live to be eighty or if I will be around just long enough to live God's will. But, what I do know is that I don't want people to just remember me for my illnesses.
I've come to realize that I don't want to be defined by the car that I drive, or the home where I live, or the cancers I've suffered. I just want to be known as a person who has faced and overcome a lot with great courage, a person with heart who cares about people and the world, a person who tries to get along with everyone. I just want to be Lynn."
Like I said, one extraordinary person.