They remind us to pay it forward

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 26, 2014

This week, as we interviewed cancer survivors and their families leading up to last night’s Covington County Relay for Life, there seemed to be a theme – “we want to help other people, just as we were helped.”

Locally, Meredith’s Miracles, Cooper’s Kids, and Cancer Freeze work hard to do that.

But I was reminded of a mom I met in November, Pam Byrd, when she and her family helped serve lunch at St. Mary’s on Thanksgiving Day.

“We have received so much support since our daughter’s diagnosis,” she said. “We realized we needed to find more ways to pay it forward.”

Pam is the mother of Bailey, 22, who was diagnosed last May with an extremely rare form of ovarian cancer, juvenile granulosa. Yesterday, she and Bailey were in Houston, where Bailey was having a treatment before Pilots for Christ flew them home.

“We have been home six days in six weeks,” Pam said yesterday “It seems like a lifetime.”

I asked her about paying it forward.

“What I love to tell people are all the good ways cancer changed my family’s life,” shes said. “Cancer showed us how much our church and our community loved us, how generous and giving people can be, how total strangers have called, messaged and supported us. How God took a disease like cancer to bring us closer to Him and to show us what we should be doing to help others.”

As a result, she is focusing on getting Bailey through her cancer journey so that the Byrd family can get busy helping others.

“I want us to truly have a servant’s heart,” Pam said. “We came to St. Mary’s to help with Thanksgiving and it was such a blessing to us to be able to do just a small work to help others. But we are hoping to do some other things once Bailey wins this battle.”

They’d like to start a widow’s ministry similar to one they’ve seen at Houston First Baptist. Bailey wants to raise money for juvenile granulose research.

“But really what we want to do is just help anyone that has a need, whether it is serving food, saying a prayer with them, giving them a hug or just holding their hand while they cry. You see, we have had someone do all those things for us and we just want to pay it forward to someone else.”

Pam believes God has a plan for Bailey’s journey, and part of it is to teach the Byrd family to minister to others. Cancer is a horrible disease, she says. But the blessings that have come with it have been enormous.

Pam, Bailey and others remind all of us who are healthy and well-fed that it is important to pay it forward in whatever ways, large or small, we are able.