Southsider Voice correspondent
“Pretty in Pink,” the title of a 1986 movie starring Molly Ringwald, is one of many reminders of Sylvia Dennis McClure and one of her and our multiple-layer stories of faith, determination and perseverance.
One year and three days after this writer married Sylvia Marie Dennis Oct. 3, 1987, we learned – through a routine examination – that breast cancer would be our primary topic of discussion over the next 30-years.
How and why did Sylvia, a vibrant, healthy second-grade teacher become a victim of breast cancer?
It was heart-stopping. It was dumbfounding.
But together, we quickly became educated and devised a step-by-step game plan to remain who we always have been – positive, forward-thinking people. No looking back.
After learning of Sylvia’s diagnosis, the same week of her birthday (Oct.5), I called a group of our Indianapolis Ski Club friends, who we planned to travel to Buffalo, N.Y., to see the Indianapolis Colts play the Bills, to bring them up to date on Sylvia’s diagnosis and inform them we would not, unfortunately, be going.
But then, Sylvia stepped in.
“We’re going,” she said. “This thing isn’t going to stop us.”
And it was right then and there that I knew which train I was going to board.
Would it be a train filled with anger, with pessimism and no hope? Or would it be a train filled with determined positivity?
We made that trip, and it was just the precursor of how Sylvia and I overcame breast cancer to extend our lives and our marriage over the next 30 years.
Through the initial stages of treatment, which required a lumpectomy, a mastectomy, grueling chemotherapy and reconstructive breast surgery, Sylvia was in the winner’s circle each and every time.
Her chemo treatments – by personal design – always came on Friday, the week’s last day of school.
And even though the chemo took its toll through a weekend, she would rally herself to return to the classroom Monday morning.
Again, her positivity and determination amazed me and strengthened my own faith.
Sylvia’s background as one of five children who grew up in rural Ohio was just one of the many reasons she would come out on top.
She was an Ohio University graduate who ventured to Indianapolis to become a teacher of what she used to tell me, “I’m an educator of young minds.”
Sylvia also was an educator to this writer. How would we get through this?
But she did, and we did.
Her story would be shared by many.
Sylvia became a loyal and regular supporting visitor to others who shared the same diagnosis through the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
And when October arrives each year, she’s right there “walking the walk” in downtown Indianapolis with thousands. As I indicated earlier – “Pretty in Pink.”
And now today, Sylvia is a nearly 30-year breast cancer survivor.
If that isn’t a line of positivity, then I don’t know what more there is.
We’re blessed. We are whole. We move on.
Blessings everyone. God is good all the time.