By Adonica Duggan
One of the best things about small town living is that we bear each other’s burdens. When your family is hit by sickness or tragedy, there is nothing like the love and prayers of a small town lifting you and rallying around your family. It is this undeniably special small town love that Rod Dreher spoke of in his 2013 book The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life. Here in Zachary we are living and loving in our own “little way” around Veronica Waldrop, as we have so many before her.
Many of us watched Veronica’s fight and determination in her first battle with cancer. Three months after giving birth to her second child, Veronica was feeding her baby girl when she felt a lump in her breast. Although she would later recount thinking it was a milk duct, she listened to her gut and made an appointment with her doctor. Four days later, Veronica was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Seven days later, Veronica’s treatment began with chemotherapy. In total, she had 16 rounds of chemo over the course of six months, followed by a double mastectomy. She chronicled her first journey through the “Big C” with a blog The V-Team, Won’t Back Down, essays written mostly during her treatments.
We featured Veronica in the October 2015 issue and shared her story. For what she describes as a beautiful year, Veronica the survivor lived cancer-free before discovering that the tumors were back. On June 1, Veronica’s fears that something had been wrong again were confirmed when she heard the dreaded words, “You have Metastatic Breast Cancer.” This time it was Stage IV and in her lungs and pelvis. Since that time, Veronica has done battle with severe pain due to the tumors in her pelvis. Efforts to shrink them with radiation are aimed at providing her with some relief. But she isn’t done fighting yet.
Veronica has embraced the opportunity her cancer has provided her to focus on the good she can be in her community and to her loved ones. She details her story and provides updates to so many who are praying for her and believing in miracles through her blog at https:// thereyouareblog.com. I count myself among those who have been profoundly impacted by Veronica’s blog and her witness. In the blog, Veronica shares her latest news and provides essays on discovering “God and Grace.” She encourages readers to embrace the everyday. Here, people reach out with prayers, and encouraging words like these from one poster “What a beautiful brave wife, mother daughter to inspire so many with your thoughts and feelings in the face of what you’re going through.” That continues to be the theme in everyone you hear talk about Veronica — graceful and inspiring in the midst of unspeakably difficult circumstances.
Last week, Veronica spoke eloquently at a benefit honoring another Zachary Cancer Warrior, Coach Sam Barham. The two have bonded over their journey and their faith. Sam points to “love, trust and faith in God,” as the things that have brought him through both losing a child and his own cancer journey. As she has in so many instances, Veronica seized the opportunity to be present and show up with love and positivity.
For now, Veronica’s journey is one day at a time dealing with what comes. She and her husband Will, and her beautiful daughters are surrounded with a loving support network of friends and family. They are covered in the love and prayers of an entire community. Zachary is #vteam, we at the Zachary Post and the Duggan family are #vteam, and we are proud of this community for honoring and supporting Veronica in our “little way.” It is the best of who we are. That’s Veronica, bringing out the best in us.