Members of the Killeen Exchange Club greeted each other joyously as they gathered for their weekly meeting at Yank Sing Chinese restaurant Monday afternoon, but the mood turned somber as community figure and longtime club member Teresa Young detailed her bout with terminal cancer.
“She’s a classic lady,” said Larry Holly, club president. “It felt fitting to give her this day.”
Young didn’t feel she could stand at the podium so board member Peggy Murphey read aloud Young’s letter about her journey, “A Faith Message.”
“It’s an important message, and I just wanted to share it,” Young said to the group before Murphey began.
“I’m reading this in Teresa’s words, but also as a cancer survivor of 32 years and as her sister,” Murphey said.
After being given a clean bill of health following an intense bout with breast cancer this past year, Young was shocked to learn her cancer had spread to her brain and bones. In the spring, she was given four to six months to live.
“For a while, I just existed,” she said. “But then I decided to make a choice — to live and have a good day or to just exist … I had a great day.”
Young is grateful for the time she’s been given to see loved ones and spend time with her husband of more than 34 years, Dick Young, who has been by her side “24 hours a day.”
Young’s advice for those in the room was simple and powerful: “Remove stress from your lives, and replace it with friends and family. Lay down your troubles, and forgive those who have wronged you. Forgive yourself for your imperfect ways.”
She assured the group that she had no fear and was at “total peace.”
“Make the most of every day and make lasting memories, because there will come a time when memories (are) all that is left,” her message finished.
The luncheon closed with a group prayer, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.