Cancer, Peace & Joy–
Amy Thomas Lynch’s It’s Over Story
The Ashland Beacon
“I've got peace, love and joy like a river
I've got peace, love and joy like a river
I've got peace, love and joy like a river in my soul!”
Young children often sing this chorus at church; however, these words ring true for what we can still experience as adults who have a relationship with Christ. Boyd County native, Amy Thomas Lynch, was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in the summer of 2021. John Hopkins Medicine claims this is the most common form of breast cancer, accounting for 80% of all breast cancer diagnoses. This cancer happens when abnormal cells growing in the lining of the milk ducts change and invade breast tissue beyond the walls of the duct. Once that happens, the cancer cells can spread. They can break into the lymph nodes or bloodstream, where they can travel to other organs and areas in the body.
Despite this diagnosis, Lynch declared, “2021, taught me to count the joy come every battle. James 1:2” The peace, love and joy running through Lynch’s soul is evident in her daily walk and the story she shares with everyone she meets. Lynch stated, “Cancer, peace and joy are not usually a combination of words you hear together. Throughout my journey with cancer and with GOD, I experienced both peace and joy. I can tell you that was the closest to God I have ever been in my life. He carried me and provided me with comfort and healing.”
Lynch described how her diagnosis came about:
“I found a lump during a self-check-in 2020. I followed through with a mammogram and was told to come back in six months. I did not educate myself properly, and I thought they were just watching a cyst. I canceled my follow-up mammogram several times due to a busy mom schedule...not realizing things could change so fast. In the summer of 2021, I made an appointment for all the things (dentist, mammogram, etc.). On June 9, 2021, I returned for my follow-up mammogram. What appeared to be a cyst over a year ago had changed drastically. My biopsy resulted in a diagnosis of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I met with a team of doctors and was given the choice to have a lumpectomy with radiation or a bilateral mastectomy. I have a family history on my paternal side, usually, maternal side history is the most concern. My genetics testing showed I am BRCA1 and BRCA2 negative. The BRCA gene test is a genetic blood test that determines if you have mutations in your DNA that increase the risk of breast cancer. That is why I was given the lumpectomy choice. I prayed about the choice of treatment to remove cancer and felt (for me) removing all the breast tissue in my body was the best decision. The thought of finding another lump down the road and going through the waiting process again was just more than I could handle. That doesn't mean that's the best decision for all; it was best for me.”
Lynch is a teacher at Poage Elementary for Ashland Independent Schools. Lynch had her first surgery on September 23, 2021 and wasn’t able to return to work until January of 2022. After the initial surgery, Lynch had a small complication from the mastectomies/reconstruction that caused her pain, and she couldn’t raise her right arm all the way. On December 21, 2021, Lynch had her final surgery and encountered a moment she will never forget. Lynch shared the moment, “I woke up to my precious momma sitting on the side of my bed. She was petting my arms and face over and over while I was trying to wake up. Oh goodness! It felt so real, and I wanted it to last forever…oh her beautiful smile. She’s here. I raised my arms to reach for her. She keeps saying ‘It’s over!’ Goodness, I can still picture her perfectly in my mind on that hospital bed.” Lynch lost her mother in a tragic car accident on August 29, 2003; however, God granted Amy a special moment with her mother when she was waking up from anesthesia from her last surgery. That special moment Lynch shared with her mother came to fruition on January 12, 2022 as Lynch was dressed in her scratchy pink cape awaiting her results from the surgeon. Lynch testified, “I took a moment to pray over every warrior that will wear this pink cape and fight this terrible disease. It’s no coincidence that at this very appointment, I once again got to hear the words, ‘It’s over from my surgeon. He left the room, and I looked up, and winked at my momma.”
Lynch had moments of fear and emotion; the cancer journey wasn’t pain-free or easy. Lynch noted, “Waiting for a plan was the most difficult part for my family. There were some sleepless nights full of prayer and tears. After I had a plan, I experienced peace and joy that I had never felt before. I give God all the glory for the peace, joy, and healing He allowed me to experience.” Lynch’s cancer battle has been a testimony to others facing cancer. Friend and colleague, Lori Beth Mays, reached out to Lynch after receiving some bad mammogram results. Mays expressed her gratitude for Lynch, “It’s amazing how God puts people in our lives to help us get through the tough days. I have no doubt God made sure Amy Lynch and I became friends over the past few years so that she could play such a role in helping me find joy while battling cancer. Watching her face cancer last year was so inspiring. To know that she was going through such a scary time, but was still praising Jesus, really caught my attention.” Lynch spoke of Mays adding, “My heart just absolutely broke for her...as it was just days from the exact anniversary of finding out about my diagnosis the prior year. I decided if I had to go through this, I would use my experience to help others. Awareness would become my purpose. Comforting others would become my purpose. Praying fervently for others would be my purpose.”
For those who are hesitant on having a mammogram or going through breast cancer right now, Lynch shared this advice, “Early detection is the best prevention. Take the time to take care of yourself. Take one day at a time and allow yourself grace. There will be good days and tough days. It's okay to feel all the feels on both of those types of days.” Remember to keep that joy and peace in your soul.