Survivor Story

Hope for the Future…

Julie Skinner is a member of two sororities.  She volunteered for one. She was drafted into the other. She is thankful to be in both.

She is a former Kay Yow Camp counselor (anyone who ever worked or attended Kay Yow Camp knows that is a sorority). She is also a cancer survivor – the most courageous of sororities.

Thirty years ago this summer, Julie worked her first of two summers of Kay Yow Camp. One, surely hot, Tuesday night in Reynolds Coliseum, Coach Yow approached Julie and asked her if she would lead the next morning’s devotion. However big or small the moment seemed then, certainly Julie could never have known the eventual significance.

Julie remembers that she picked the verse from Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” as the focal point of her lesson.

First the irony.

Looking back thirty years later, the fact that Julie led a devotion assuring listeners of God’s gentle sovereignty regarding future events, perhaps no more than 6 Wednesdays before the Wednesday in August 1987 when Coach Yow was first diagnosed, seems so amazingly random. And yet, we know, nothing about this story is random.

Now the parallels.

The future. Coach Yow was diagnosed with breast cancer on August 5, 1987. 23 years later, Julie began her journey with breast cancer. Coach Yow would never know that their futures held this common bond. Yet, each woman battled their common opponent with grace, courage, and strength.

The hope. Talking with Julie, it is apparent that her life with cancer has been lived in a similar vein as Coach Yow’s. Julie is a coach for multiple club basketball teams. Throughout her battle, she continued to coach, giving hope to the kids and their families that witnessed her strength and courage in a daily fight for her life. At the same time, Julie says nothing gave her encouragement quite like that of her players. Sounds familiar.

Maybe it was the plan along. His plan — to give Coach Yow and Julie a purpose, in their players, that they were so passionate about that being in the presence of their game and their people would give them both strength and hope on the darkest of days. That alone is an encouraging thought.

The even more inspiring idea is the thought that His plan was to give hope to many, many more through the battle that Coach Yow and Julie both fought. In this way, the future is full of hope and the battle is already won.

To donate to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, click here.

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