"I don't get to perform anymore and reach people," Lydecker said in a raspy voice during a recent chemotherapy session with Brown by her side. "This reaches people. We're hoping people leave knowing they're not alone."
- Photos: Rising above the pain
- Way of the Cross
- Easter rituals provide comfort for grief-stricken
- Diseases and Illnesses
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St. James Roman Catholic Church; 820 N Arlington Heights Rd, Arlington Heights, IL 60004, USA
St. Mary of the Woods Roman Catholic Church; 7033 N Moselle Ave, Chicago, IL 60646, USA
"While Easter comes only once a year, the reality is that people walk the cancer journey 365 days each year," Brown said.
On a recent Friday, Lydecker rose from her chair next to the altar at St. Mary of the Woods Catholic Church, lit a candle and stepped to the podium to present Brown's take on the second station — Jesus taking up his cross. Though the words reflected Brown's perspective, Lydecker identified with the script.
"The bottom line is, I didn't want to be the poster child for cancer — nobody does," she strained to tell the audience, her hoarse voice crackling. "It's just the cross we take up. Underneath our diagnosis, we're still the people we always were — looking for answers, needing positive support and praying for God's grace."
Later, Brown rose from her chair to share the ninth station — Jesus falling the third time.
"I had gotten through surgery, chemo and radiation, and before my hair even had a chance to grow back, my best friend was diagnosed with cancer," she told the audience.
"In less than a year's time, she went from being my rock and my refuge, to looking cancer in the face herself. It was just too much. My spirits hit rock bottom and I was powerless to pull myself up — until I saw my friend walk by carrying her cross. … Now, we walk together, my friend and I — hand in hand, heart to heart."
She returned to her seat beside Lydecker. They each exchanged knowing glances and reached for the other's hand.