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Cathy Hendrick to speak at Douglas

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Cathy Hendrick to speak at Douglas

By The Staff

There aren’t many people around whose lives haven’t been touched in one way or another by cancer. It is no respecter of person, race, creed or income. Take Cathy Hendrick for instance. She could be the “Job” of our generation. Her life was changed forever on Oct. 24, 2004, when her husband – Hendrick Motorsports President John Hendrick, her 22-year-old twin daughters, Jennifer and Kimberly and her nephew, Ricky Hendrick – were among the 10 people killed in a plane crash near Martinsville, Va. “Within hours, my family of five was a family of two,” said Hendrick, who will share her story of perseverance and faith at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Douglas Presbyterian Church, 2325 Sunday Place. The church is off Great Falls Highway, about 2.5 miles south of Airport Crossroads. Tickets to see Hendrick are $7 each and all the proceeds benefit Relay for Life. Just look for the church sign. Christian recording artist and songwriter Lisa Ann Hammond, who has Tourette’s syndrome, will perform at the fundraiser, too. Hendrick said the ordeal of losing her husband and two children in an instant was nothing short of heart- wrenching. “There were times I would say to myself that I would never be happy again,” she said. “Not only did I say it, but I really believed it, too.” Hendrick’s ties to the Lancaster community are strong. Her daughter, Alesha Gainey, son-in-law Mike Gainey, and grandchildren Joseph and Jocelyn, live here. John Hendrick was a staunch supporter of the Lancaster Bassmasters' Christmas Toy Drive, a cause that Cathy Hendrick continues to lend financial support to. She said Jennifer and Kimberly came here several times to help the Bassmasters deliver toys and clothes to some of the county’s neediest families. “A lot of the stuff John started, I will continue to support,” she said. “In my heart, it wouldn’t be right not to. It would be what he and the girls would want because it was something we did as a family.” It was a question I had to ask. How do you deal with such a devastating loss? It wasn’t what she said, but how she said it that stuck with me. Her words resonated with a pain that was difficult to overcome and still is. The words reminded me of what it felt like when I learned my mother, the late Betty Summers, had ovarian cancer. “In my mind, the things that are unexpected always hit a lot harder,” she said. “Your mind doesn’t have time to accept it. Your heart knows it, but your mind won’t allow you to believe it.” If losing her husband and daughters wasn’t enough, Cathy Hendrick learned about six weeks ago that her father has prostate cancer. Her sister is a breast cancer survivor and her brother-in-law – Hendrick Motorsports founder Rick Hendrick – is in remission from chronic myelogenous leukemia. Rick Hendrick was diagnosed with CML in 1996. “In one way or another, we have all walked down this road,” Hendrick said of cancer. She is working with author Don Piper on a book about the tragic loss of her husband and twin daughters. Piper wrote “90 Minutes in Heaven.” So far, three chapters have been completed. But for now, the book is on the back burner. Cathy Hendrick said other priorities have precedent. She was one of 93 volunteers who returned from a Methodist medical mission trip in Ethiopia on Monday. It’s a sign that despite the trials life has thrown at her, Cathy Hendrick won’t give in by sitting around feeling sorry for herself. That trip – her second in as many years – keeps life in perspective, she said. “To see a doctor there costs less than $2 and they can’t even afford that,” she said. “You see dirt floors, no running water and no electricity. The people there don’t get very much help from their government and feel like they’ve been forgotten. We go to help.” Hendrick doesn’t give up, either. “People who don’t have faith in Jesus Christ, I honesty don’t understand how they make it,” she said. “That’s the one thing I’ve learned. “No matter what you are facing, Jesus will go through it with you and you can come out praising his name,” Hendrick said. Now to me, that sounds like something Job would say, doesn’t it?