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Paula Dyer Grateful for those who shared walk

By Staff | May 28, 2017

Paula Dyer, left, with the Fight Like a Girl team of Amy Hovotec, Sally Underwood, Deb Cole, Christy Manley, Steffani Nemmers and Tammy Jo Busch-Johnson at Country Inn Bar & Grill in Swea City. Dyer said those who walked with her through cancer made her survival possible. Photo submitted

By Amy H. Peterson

Staff Writer

Paula Dyer called it the “fog of uncertainty.”

“I will never know how long I have. The next test could be good or not, and even if it’s good, there’s always the next one,” Dyer said of the continued monitoring of the breast cancer that has put her through the cycle of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.

“I do not want to focus on the medical part of it. I think everyone knows breast cancer is bad. I want to focus on the people who were walking through the journey with me,” Dyer said.

It was March, 2015 when Paula and her husband, John, walked through the doors of the chemo clinic at Fairmont, and she said, “This is not a place for me. This is for other people, but not me.”

She was met at the door by a former student. “This was a God-wink, I believe,” Paula said. The staff at the clinic became like family: dedicated, compassionate, and causing her to feel at times she was their only patient.

“My faith, my family and my friends were my rocks through the whole journey, even casual acquaintances who made very kind gestures,” Paula said.

“At my lowest point, I’m sure I was not very lovable. But they accepted me as the person I became, and I’ll never forget the prayers and encouragement,” Paula said.

Paula said the staff at the Country Greens Golf Course, which she and her husband own, showed true understanding toward the debilitation of the worst moments of her illness.

“They were phenomenal,” Paula said.

The experience of undergoing treatment for cancer, and of that fog of uncertainty, made a truth of life crystal clear to Paula.

“The real meaning of life is love and compassion,” she said. It was this experience that showed her that in new ways.

“Hope is such an important word when it comes to cancer,” she said.

Paula said she came to terms with a new normal, and developed a new gratitude for life.

“The only rule of cancer is that there are no rules. You have to live in the present moment,” she said.

Paula’s faith played a major role in her journey.

“We live life like we’re in control when we’re not in control. Having cancer shattered any illusion I had that I’m in control,” Paula said.

Paula grew up in Armstrong, moved away, and came back as a teacher, with a total of 33 years teaching middle school. After retiring from the school district in 2000, John and Paula started operating the golf course in Armstrong.

Their two sons are Jared Cecil and Peter Cecil. Jared and his wife Erica live in Algona and have three children: Jason, Jackson and Emma. Pete and his wife Amy live in Portland, Ore., and have two daughters: Ainsley and Shealyn.

“My grandchildren were so supportive. Whether they gave me a painted rock or a handmade bear pillow, or just hugged me, I feel so blessed to have them in my life,” Paula said.

Paula joined the Relay for Life team of Ringsted Happy Hoofers, and became involved in Colors for Cancer years before she was diagnosed. The 2017 Colors of Cancer golf tournament is July 23.

“Half the funds raised stay local. Funds go out to Algona, Estherville, Spencer and Fairmont, and half stay here for Relay for Life,” Paula said.

These days, Paula stays busy running the golf course, serving on the board of the Armstrong Museum, and looking at the positive side of life.

“I love this community,” Paula said.