When Joe White first noticed a slight protrusion in his abdomen while at his home in Atlanta, Georgia, he immediately scheduled an appointment with his doctor. The physician assured him the lump was no cause for worry, but as the swelling worsened, Joe insisted on getting a second opinion. Af ter Joe described his symptoms to a subsequent doctor in May 2002, he was immediately brought in for a CT scan. The results were daunting: Joe's body housed five massive tumors, all of which were inoperable. The doctor diagnosed him with Stage IV Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and suggested immediate chemotherapy treatment.
After months of intense treatment, Joe’s cancer went into remission – a blessing, but of brief duration. One year after being cancer–free, the disease that pummeled Joe's body returned, and his second round of treatment was unyielding. Although chemo reduced his tumors, the potency of this therapy took a toll on Joe’s body. After his last treatment in 2004, Joe's immune system was severely weakened, and he was in constant pain due to nerve damage.
Joe’s cancer is now in its second remission. He and his wife Ellinor relocated to Huntsville where he receives intravenous blood treatments every four weeks to strengthen his immune system. Although Joe continues to grapple with the post-effects of his chemo treatments, he draws strength from his faith in God. "If I were not a Christian, I couldn’t get through it," he affirms. His wife Ellinor also remains his devoted companion and constant caregiver. "She’s my memory," says Joe. "She is constantly reminding me to stay on my diet and take my medication. Ellinor has been my biggest supporter."
For Joe’s garden, he selected an array of green shadings, including elephant ears, hostas, and ferns. Joe wanted to create a jungle atmosphere as a reminder of when he served in the U.S. Army on a tour of duty in Panama. His flower of choice is the bold-colored zinnia. Zinnias are resilient and enduring, a testament to Joe’s determination to press onward.
Joe White knows what it means to adapt to change, and he conveys this sound wisdom to others: "There are only two things we can control: our diet and our attitude. We should stay positive and focus on what we can control, and let God and the doctors do the rest."