“It’s not where I’ve been, it’s where I am going!”
“I don’t understand it! There was cancer... I can’t explain it?” These were the words that where delivered to Dwayne Cleveland, Stacy’s husband by a doctor in the city of Tifton, Georgia. Only the day before, Stacy had been given startling news that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. “I was scared, I was worried, and I was frightened!” Stacy expressed to me as she sat in her small, southern kitchen, starring at the camera. Her brown hair mixed in with the shadows caused by the low lighting, but yet her small figure, and her bright smile stuck out against her lightly colored walls. Although the thoughts of fear and anxiety of what would be happening in the near future were constantly before her, Stacy had great faith in God!
This faith began in her early childhood. Stacy was an only child, but she was surrounded by the great support of her family. She grew up in the town of Jacksonville, Florida. Her family was Baptist, and taught her since she was very young, to believe, and have faith in God. “I knew that God existed, and I knew that I could always pray to him.” Stacy shared with confidence. She showed her faith in many ways. Even if some were repetitive. “I was baptized about a dozen times!” She said with a cheerful laugh. Amber her eighteen year old daughter, passes behind her as she continues to share her experience with me through the camera. The strength of the internet signal varies, making it difficult to see her face, and judge her reactions, but her voice is clear, and her story is vividly painted into my memory.
She loves everything!” says Dwayne, her husband. “I met her at a night club. I was at a bachelor party, she was a waitress, and her personality was what attracted me to her.” Dwayne stated with a sense of hesitation, and embarrassment. Stacy relates the experience to me as: “I met him in a bar… I was a waitress and he was just… there.” She too speaks with a slight sign of embarrassment, realizing how this must sound to members of the Latter-day Saints, but chuckles as she relates one of the most import events in her life to me. Stacy and Dwayne were married in April of 1996.
Stacy and her husband then moved to the small town of Waterloo, Georgia. Unknown to Stacy, her life, and the life of her family would be forever changed in this small, southern town. By Latter-day Saint standards, the Cleveland family would be considered fully non-members! Dwayne was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but had been inactive in church since his childhood. Their daughter Amber had begun going to a local Pentecostal Church just down the road form their small home. Stacy said, concerning her daughter: “I was happy that she was going.” She and Dwayne didn’t go to church on Sundays, but she was glad that her daughter had a desire to go to church. On one particular Sunday Stacy related to me that, Michael, her youngest was upset, and confronted Dwayne...