Persons, places and things: All will be well


By Barb Arland-Fye

We are longtime friends who met in Clinton where I developed my reporting skills and Nancy shared her talents as a calligrapher and watercolor artist. Now we connect via Facebook because Nancy, who studied under Father Edward Catich at St. Am­brose University in Davenport, lives in Deep River, Ontario, Canada, with her husband, Francois, an Anglican priest.

Nancy waves hello. She is recovering from breast cancer and is now battling autoimmune encephalitis.

Earlier this fall, I read an alarming post from Francois that Nancy had been hospitalized and might be suffering from brain cancer. I knew that she had received chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer diagnosed in March, but she seemed to be making a good comeback.
In subsequent posts, I learned that Nancy’s chemotherapy eradicated the breast cancer but began to attack healthy brain cells, triggering autoimmune encephalitis. Already in my prayers, Nancy and Francois received an extra daily prayer.

On Oct. 6, Nancy posted an uplifting blog with a photo that accentuated her positive attitude. Wearing a fluffy white bathrobe, she waved for the camera with a big smile and a shaved head. I responded, “Wonderful, positive blog, Nancy!”


More positive news arrived via Facebook on Oct. 18. Her radiation doctor was pleased with her recovery from breast cancer lumpectomy and treatment as well as the autoimmune issues. I expressed my appreciation for Nancy’s positive attitude and gratitude, which inspire me.

She responded with a suggestion to have a video chat after she returned from Sunday services at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Deep River where Francois serves as rector. As a newbie to video chats, I had to ask my son Patrick for guidance. Nancy and I connected, but initially she saw images of my furniture and family room floor. Oops! Experience is a great teacher. Meanwhile, I saw her face, puffy from the prednisone to prevent inflammation of her brain cells. But the light still dances in her eyes.

She described the fog she lived through before being diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis and the nightmarish 48-hour period in the hospital when her memory went into a tailspin. At one point she mistook her hospital roommate for her late mother and thought that she was being reunited with her loved ones in heaven! The one thing she worried about: leaving her art studio in a big mess for Francois to clean up.

Nancy never lost faith and didn’t despair over her situation. She has the love of her husband, their faith community, her grown children and friends. “The power of prayer, it’s tangible,” she told me. The prayers being said on her behalf lift her up. “I do feel blessed by God; I don’t think I would have made it without God,” she said.

I echoed her comments in sharing an update of my health. On Oct. 1, members of my Mayo Clinic team pronounced my follicular lymphoma in remission and said my body was healing well from thyroid cancer surgery. The surgeon didn’t have to remove the entire thyroid; the remaining lobe and three parathyroid glands are working well. So thyroid medication is not necessary at this time. Who could ask for anything more?

Nancy can’t plan too far ahead because of the trauma her body has experienced, but she’s taking each day at a time, joyfully. In my mind, she’s evangelizing the Joy of the Gospel in her walk through this health challenge. A comment Nancy made on her blog truly resonates with me: “… I feel compelled to create and to share my creative verve with others as an expression of my deep faith in God…”

(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on

1 thought on “Persons, places and things: All will be well

  1. Nancy and Francois are very good friends of ours. We have been praying for them and it is great news to know that she is well on the way to a complete recovery.

Comments are closed.