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Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

Community gives back to local volunteer

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

(Photo)
Cathey Daniels
MATTHEWS - Most people wouldn't consider Cathey Daniels fortunate, but she does.

Last year, her father almost died due to a medication mix-up. Her 48-year-old brother-in-law, who had beaten colon cancer, was diagnosed with liver cancer. Her 53-year-old brother had just gotten the all-clear from doctors in his battle against a brain tumor when his body apparently gave out and he died. A month to the day after her brother's death, she found a lump in her breast; two weeks later she was being treated for cancer.

Depressed?

Daniels isn't. In each of these, Daniels has searched to find the positive, an inspiration and in turn, she has become an inspiration to others.

Reflecting on her health, Daniels said she always tried to do the right things - never smoking, regular check-ups and exercise. It was during a regular self-examination that she found the small lump.

"It is awful to hear that C-word," she admitted. "But I think I have to rely that God has a greater plan than we can fathom. He has the last word and I just have to have faith that all this has a purpose. He is using my being sick to teach lessons."

It is this faith along with her family, friends and co-workers that is bringing her through. Today, she is thankful for the time she had to share with her brother. With her brother-in-law she swaps stories about chemotherapy and cancer.

And it has given an appreciation for her own life.

Daniels said her life has always centered around her home. Growing up in Canalou, she attended high school in Lilbourn. "I graduated sometime before the Civil War," she joked. After college at Southeast Missouri State University, she returned to New Madrid County and starting her teaching career at Matthews later transferring to the New Madrid County Middle School.

When word spread about her illness, Daniels said she started receiving cards, gifts, meals and just visits offering support. Her co-workers have volunteered to help with her classes and when her hair began falling out from the chemotherapy, her students brought her hats.

Now her hometown is stepping forward to help. A fund-raiser, sponsored by the Big Prairie Jaycees, is planned in her honor from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Matthews Community Building on North Calvin Street.

Jaycee Kenny Johnson said he and most of the other members of the group have known Daniels all their lives.

"Everybody likes her," said Johnson. "Cathey has been such an outstanding member of the community. She has been a good teacher for the kids. We felt like we should give her a hand if we could."

While the Jaycees are sponsoring the event, the entire community is pitching in, noted Ann Porter, a Matthews resident and friend. Porter said she has received many calls from those who know Daniels. They have volunteered to donate items, to bring desserts or simply to attend. Porter said she isn't surprised by the response.

"She has been a wonderful person to so many people. She has touched so many lives probably in ways we will never know," said Porter.

She added Daniels is always among the first to volunteer to help someone in need. After Porter's son died, it was Daniels who has helped organize the scholarship each year in his memory.

Getting a bit teary, Porter continued: "I guess I have watched her dedicate her life to kids and it has been a dedication. She has taken care of her family that has been sick. She is one of the first responders when something happens to someone in the area. She is one of the first to come to your aid - it might be a special note, it might be a meal, anything.

"I'm not trying to make her out as a saint - but Cathey is a good person. She has probably been what most of us ought to be."

Daniels will have another chemotherapy treatment the day before the fund-raiser and is in hopes it won't make her sick so she can attend. She said she would like to stop in and thank everyone.

"It has stunned me that there are as many people who care about me as they do. It will be hard to repay," said a tearful Daniels.

But those who know her will say, it is the other way around. They are simply repaying her for the life she has led.