There’s one thing Becky Rushing of Decatur wants to make clear right off the bat.
“I’m not by-God dying … so stop calling and asking how I feel,” she said she often wants to tell people.
It’s not that she’s being rude or doesn’t appreciate the concern shown by others. For Rushing, cancer is simply one more of life’s obstacles that she will overcome, so there’s no need for a fuss.
“I’m not getting real cranked up over this,” Rushing said. “I don’t think it’s anything I can’t beat. I’ve dealt with bigger monsters.”
In this case, the “monster” is lung cancer.
Last December, Rushing went to the doctor for treatment of bronchitis. A chest X-ray revealed a lesion about the size of a half-dollar.
Her doctors told her she was lucky.
In most cases, people who have lung cancer don’t realize they have it until it has already spread to other areas such as the liver, the bones or the brain.
“I have no symptoms at all,” she said. “I feel great. I keep saying, ‘How can I have this and feel as well as I feel?’ Like my doctor, (Neelima) Maddukuri said, that’s why people don’t catch it until it is in advanced stages normally. So that’s why I feel real fortunate that we caught it this early.”
She may feel fine, but Rushing knows she can’t ignore the cancer. The biggest obstacle in her path at this moment is the cost of treatment: $19,000 for radiation and chemotherapy, with $5,000 required up front.
It’s a problem because she doesn’t have health insurance.
Overcoming obstacles is nothing new for Rushing. After her husband died of a heart attack four years ago, she’s been raising two adopted sons, a second grader and a freshman, on her own. Then, in December 2011, Rushing suffered a heart attack.
Her boys are understandably concerned, but Rushing does her best to keep their minds at ease.
“I said, ‘Guys, the upside to this is my hair might all fall out, and if it does, y’all get to paint my head like an Easter egg,'” she said.
Rushing knows what it is like to live with, and beat cancer. Her brother, Don, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After surgery, doctors said he’d live about a year.
“19 years later, he said, ‘I finally give up,'” Rushing said.
Her brother used holistic medicine to treat his cancer. She’s also had a friend with breast cancer who has treated herself with holistic methods, so while she raises the money for traditional treatment, Rushing is also trying the holistic route in the meantime.
“I’m basically on fresh vegetables, no dairy, no meats,” she explained.
Rushing has also given up a 45-year habit that she feels certain was the biggest contributing factor to her lung cancer diagnosis: smoking. But she doesn’t have to fight this battle on her own. Her daughter and a friend have also decided to kick the smoking habit, so they’re able to help each other.
Rushing’s friends have put together a benefit concert this weekend to raise money for her cancer treatments.
“She’s such a giver,” said Janell Cartwright, who is organizing the concert. “She’s someone everybody loves.”
The “We’re Jammin’ for Becky” event Saturday, March 16, at the Wise County Heritage Museum begins with a barbecue meal 4 to 5 p.m. Barbecue sandwich, chips, drink and a dessert is $7 a plate.
The concert will run from 5 to 10 p.m. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under. The Righteous Brothers Blues Band, Cookin’ With Grace Band, Rick Bowling, Roland Upton, Cartwright, The Redbud Ramblers and headliner Rod Ballou will perform.
An auction featuring Charlie Smithers will take place in between acts. Among the items up for bid are a leather and wood rocker and a tool set.
Since it is a benefit, additional donations are also welcome.
A benefit account has also been opened in her name at First State Bank in Bridgeport. Routing number is 111906462, and the account number is 417580. If writing a check, put “for deposit only” on the back.