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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Please Help My Artist Friend Who Is Battling Breast Cancer

By Suzanne Payne

This story is not about a breast cancer "survivor", instead it is about a special friend who is in the midst of a fierce battle against breast cancer. My friend, who is also the friend of many in our community, is Kathy Wycoff. Kathy is a mother of five, grandmother, a gifted artist, and the wife of the former pastor of Christ Alliance Church of Marianna, Brad Wycoff.
Kathy recently discovered she has "inflammatory" breast cancer, which is a fast moving form of the terrible disease. Kathy’s cancer has already spread to her ribs, sternum, and cranium. She is currently being treated with chemotherapy.
To make things even worse, she does not have medical insurance. As a fund raising effort, her friends in Jackson County have banned together and formed a benefit yard sale which will occur on Friday, November 7th (10 am thru 3 pm) and Saturday, November 8th (9 am thru 2 pm) at 4477 Broad Street, Marianna. You may also give a love offering to help her at that time.
I first met my friend, Kathy Wycoff about 3-4 years ago. It was a fall day, and I had been invited to her home by one of my Chipola art students who was interested in getting local artists together. Kathy has a gift of hospitality as well as being a talented artist. When the front door was opened, I was met by a woman with sparkling blue eyes and a beaming, genuine smile. I immediately felt at home and just knew we were going to become special friends. As it turns out Kathy is just 2 days younger than me. We both love art and the Lord.
Kathy is a woman of faith. She and her husband, Brad, moved to Jackson County from Denver in 2002. Kathy was a dedicated pastor’s wife and always attended to her responsibilities at the church which included playing the piano, singing and supporting her husband. Kathy held Bible Studies in her home, went on evangelism visits with her husband, and had a weekly after school program with children at Golson Elementary.
She did all this while caring for a mother-in-law with Alzhemier’s who regrettably passed away just before Kathy and Brad moved to Ft. Smith, Arkansas. They had not lived close to family since their children became adults, and Kathy was hoping to help with her aging mother. As it turns out now, Kathy is the one in need of help.
I have been so blessed by praying with Kathy, going to Bible studies, and sharing on a spiritual level. Those that know Kathy well would say she has a personal relationship with Jesus and the assurance that she will go to heaven one day. This is indeed a comfort to her friends and family.
Only God knew what would become of the meeting of artists that fall day at Kathy’s home. It was the day that knit a group of people together with the commonality of art and faith. The beginning of the Artists Guild of Northwest Florida occurred around Kathy’s dining room table that afternoon.
Kathy’s warm, out-going nature and enthusiasm soon brought many new members to The Artist’s Guild. She was one of the founding members of The Artists Guild of Northwest Florida. She worked tirelessly on the logistics of several "Sunday Afternoon With the Arts" shows. She showed at least three pieces in the show each year and has exhibited in other regional shows. She has mastered the medium of soft pastels, especially portraits. She loves painting people, and that love jumps out of paintings to you as you view her work. She did demonstrations of her techniques at Sunday Afternoon with the Arts. Her bubbling personality encouraged all local artists.
One of the special things Kathy and I did together was to paint benches for the first Garden Gala for Covenant Hospice. Her bench was a fairy cut out of wood sitting on her bench which was titled: "I’ll Fly Away." This comes from a familiar gospel song which refers to going to heaven one day. We know Kathy will go to heaven, but we are not ready for her to leave just yet. Please pray for her in the coming weeks, and give if you are able. Please come to the yard sale and support my friend, Kathy Wycoff.
Another Friend with comments about Kathy Wycoff:
Lesli Longbottom writes: Five years ago this month I met a woman destined to become my dear friend. While unpacking after moving into our new home, I heard a knock on the door. I was surprised to see an attractive woman, a distinguished looking gentleman and several young adults standing on my porch. I opened the door, thinking how nice it was for my new neighbors to introduce themselves, when the woman asked if I minded if they walked through the house.
Her children were visiting from Colorado and she would love for them to see the home they were interested in buying…Confused, I told her we had just purchased this home….We both laughed as she explained that she thought I was the real estate agent.. The "FOR SALE" sign was still up in the yard. This was to be my first encounter with this remarkable woman, Kathy Wycoff. She became my very first friend in Marianna.
All of us are aware of the challenge Kathy and Brad are facing with her recent diagnosis with breast cancer. Kathy has been a friend, mentor, prayer partner and teacher to many of us. Her gentleness, kindness, graciousness and great faith have inspired most all of us. Not to mention the God given talent she possesses artistically which has been a source of pleasure for so many.
She has impacted all our lives in such a positive way. I am sure we will all continue to keep them both in our thoughts and prayers. Let’s not forget that there are tangible needs which must be addressed and met as well. Finances are certainly one area. Please prayerfully consider making a monetary donation to assist Brad and Kathy as they engage in this battle.
Special Note:
For your information, the Cancer Research Foundation web page has written that the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer or IBC are: swelling, usually sudden, sometimes a cup size in a few days, itching, pink, red, or dark colored area (called erythema) sometimes with texture similar to the skin of an orange (called peau d’orange), ridges and thickened areas of the skin, nipple retraction and nipple discharge. The breast is warm to the touch and painful. The areola may change in color. Inflammatory breast cancer usually grows in nests or sheets, rather than as a confined solid tumor. IBC may not be detected using either mammography or ultrasonography. Increased breast density compared to prior mammograms should be considered suspicious. Remember: You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

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