ASH FLAT — Last year at this time, Beth McEntire Bess of Hardy was on life support, and her family was forced to make a decision. They had to choose to take her off life support and allow her to die or allow her to begin strong chemotherapy treatments, which would probably kill her.
The slight growth of hair on her head is a reminder of the fight with cancer that she won.
She told her story — of suddenly losing her first husband in 1995, surviving breast cancer in 1999 and being diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, also known as MDS, in 2011 — at the annual Rock This House women’s conference in Ash Flat on Saturday morning.
Bess said her MDS, which developed into leukemia, was a result of receiving too much chemotherapy treatment during her breast-cancer treatment.
She went into the hospital on her youngest son’s birthday last year with a high fever, and three weeks later on her oldest son’s birthday, she couldn’t take another breath on her own. On Aug. 14, 2011, she was put on a ventilator.
“I looked at the clock on the back wall and saw that it said midnight,” she said.
“It says, ‘Be not afraid’ in the Bible 365 times, and we need that every day.”
Bess went on to say she remembered praying to not die on her son’s birthday.
“This time last year, I was in a coma and unaware of what my family was going through,” she said. “It was time for them to make a decision.”
With this tough decision weighing on them, Beth said, her husband, Greg, didn’t accept the two choices offered — removing life support or starting a life-threatening round of chemotherapy.
“My husband said, ‘This case is going in the medical books, and if you want to be included, you better get on board,’” Bess said. “He closed the blinds and wailed to God and begged to let me come back — I opened my eyes.”
The doctor arrived in disbelief and asked her to wiggle her toes, and she did.
“The doc said, ‘All right, we’re back in the game,’” she said, then smiled. “I knew I had been touched by the Holy Spirit, and I knew what my purpose was: to help those who are feeling helpless and hopeless. We can do all things through Christ.”
She said that although she had to learn to chew, walk and write again, her progress was fast. She said she was able to be home in time for her youngest son’s wedding.
“I was stage 4. You’re not supposed to live when you have stage 4,” she said about her leukemia diagnosis.
Less than a year ago, she had a bone-marrow transplant. At this year’s conference, Bess stood before a crowd of more than 600 women in the hope of inspiring them that there’s always hope, no matter how grave the issue.
“She has the most precious testimony, and we love her for sharing her journey,” Jan Haney, cofounder of Rock This House, said about Bess. “Robin Roberts on Good Morning America has the same cancer Beth has: MDS.”
The lineup for next year’s Rock This House has already begun to fall into place.
“Listen, God is good,” Haney said, “and he provides what we need. … There is no way we could attract the caliber of speakers in Ash Flat, Ark., that we do without his help. … Just for instance, Lysa TerKeurst asked us to change the date to July next year so she could [attend the conference]. She was booked solid in August through December. We backed it up just for her. She is the hottest speaker going right now. Her new book, Unglued, has just come out, Aug. 7. … Everyone wants her to speak. We’ve got her. That isn’t a coincidence.”
For more information on Rock This House, visit the Ash Flat Church of Christ website, www.ashflatcofc.org .
Reprinted with permission by www.arkansasonline.com .