Facing the Goliath of Cancer
By Robert (Bob) W. Jones

Fear and its relative cousins – worry, distress, and anxiety – are bigger than any other giant you will ever face.

Fear is brutal. However, Tanya Lafontaine will tell you there is something more powerful than fear… and cancer.

When your brain gets hold of one fearful thought and runs with it, you see an instant future of only doom, gloom, and disaster.

Position your body in the stance of anxiety. Most people hunch their shoulders forward, fold their arms across their chests and assume a contracted position to cover their heart. This is the posture of fear.

When you are fearful it’s impossible to feel love.

Tanya Lafontaine has a different posture. Being a devoted, single mom to a 10-year old son did that for her. You would never know by her stance that she is facing a stage 4 cancer diagnosis where the survival stats are not in her favor. I learned of Tanya through a feature article in our local newspaper. Her gritty determination impressed my wife and I so much that we reached out to her via social media and formed a bond.

The 45-year-old mother has been in the fight of her life since August 2017. Sitting on her couch and listening to her remarkable story will convince you that the positive sayings adorning the walls of her home are embedded in the core of her spirit.

One year after her initial cancer diagnosis doctors discovered a tumor growing on Tanya’s brain stem. She needed life-saving surgery. Initially, no one wanted to take on the complicated surgery. Then the father of Olympic triathlete – Paula Findlay – stepped up, and on May 5, 2018 – a day before her son turned nine – Lafontaine underwent a craniotomy to remove a hemangioblastoma caused by her cancer treatments.

One year ago she was transferred to the Glenrose Brain Injury Nursing and Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton where she had to learn how to walk and speak again. At her discharge conference her doctors were astounded.

“We don’t even have a form for this,” they told her, “we just have to make one up.” Professionals were sure she would be going home with a walker or wheelchair, but once again she defied the odds.

Tanya misses her cardio and barbell workouts and teaching 22-28 classes a month at the World Health Gym. Exercise endorphins were her drugs. While she optimistically looks forward to an eight-hour day of exercise on a coming Saturday, just getting up in the morning now takes most of the energy for her day. But she’s grateful for new friends and unexpected kindnesses. We rallied men from North Pointe Church to repair her home and her car. One couple introduced Tanya to Jesus and led her to faith in him as her Saviour.

“I read my Bible everyday and hold on to Jesus through prayer,” shares Tanya.

Love colors everything Tanya does. Love for her son, for her friends from the World Health Gym, from North Pointe Church, and for life itself. She knows the facts about her health, but she is ever hopeful of miracles in many forms.

Tanya is facing relational and health trauma that would overwhelm the strongest of us, but she’s not giving in or giving up.

Love, hope, and tenacity – three smooth stones to bring down her Goliath of fear.

Bob Jones

About this Contributor:

Robert (Bob) W. Jones is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.
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