Meet Lynda Junker!
I place a call to Lynda in the morning in order to accommodate her chemo schedule. From the moment she answers she’s in a great mood. I’d come to learn that this is just her personality. No matter what trials we discussed she always says with an upbeat tone, ‘but I’m alright!’
In January, 2021 she was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer and given 3 months to live. “I was having some troubles I saw my primary care doctor for and he had a bad feeling, once tests had come back, about what might be the cause. He sent me to an oncologist, and they told me I had ‘til April, they’d guess.”
“But I’m still here because they don’t determine when I go, the Good Lord does.” Lynda devotes her life to her faith. And I can see, without her directly saying so, that it releases a burden from her own shoulders of things out of her control.
Physically, much of Lynda’s day is different now compared to prior to her diagnosis. She is in a wheelchair and needs help to walk without it, telling me that her bones are very fragile. While that doesn’t stop her from doing the things she’s always loved, I wanted to get to know more about her prior to her diagnosis.
Settling in Colorado
Lynda tells me that she’s from California and moved a couple times, but she focuses more on her time spent in Colorado. She moved here with her husband many years ago to help care for her own mother who had become ill. With other family members living in the area as well, she and her family decided to stay here.
“I applied for Foothills Green housing before it was even built. My friends saw the construction and told me about it, that it would be an affordable housing community. We applied then and have lived here since.”
A Giving Heart
“What were some of the things you liked to do most?” I asked.
“Well, every day I just like to do something for God,” she continued with some of the things she regularly did, and even still does. Cooking dinners and hosting others for meals was a staple. She also does Toys for Tots around the holiday season every year.
She even sold clothing and shoes at the flea market on the weekends. “I would usually look for stores that were closing or had end of the season sales, so I could get more quantity. Then I’d bring them to the flea market and sell them for three or four dollars.”
But the real surprise came as a passing comment, no emphasis placed on it. Lynda mentioned caring for her 25 kids. “Wait a minute,” I said, “Did you just say 25? Did I hear that right?”
Yeah, well most of them were adopted over the years. I have 5 biological kids.”
“So these are children that were formally added to your family?”
She tells me the story of the first child she adopted. Lynda was there for her birth. She didn’t say anything about the biological mother or how Lynda knew her. Just that she said that the mother said she wasn’t ready for a child. Lynda offered to take her.
“Some of the others were adopted through foster care, now my youngest is 20 years old.”
“Why continue to adopt? Have you always had such a giving heart?” I asked.
“Always,” she said with resolution. “I didn’t intend to keep adopting, I was just there and willing.” It was clear to me that Lynda’s mindset was for others, to serve others. She lived her life in a state of availability and readiness, waiting for the opportunity to give.
Adjusting to Life with Cancer
Today her family is paying it back to her. She tells me of many of her kids, both biological and adopted, who regularly take care of her. That includes getting her to and from her many appointments, assisting her with her treatment regimen at home, and helping her with mobility where necessary.
“I’m very blessed for the VA as well. They have paid for so much of my medical care and equipment, like my wheelchair.”
Lynda joined the Marine Corp at 18. She met her husband while serving, who was in the Air Force.
“Roman has been the absolute best, too,” she began, “He listens and gets things done and is so kind. He’s unlike any other manager I’ve ever had.”
Lynda tells me about when she was transitioning into a wheelchair.
“I told Roman, the Property Manager at Foothills Green, just before getting the wheelchair that I was going to need some help with the entrance to my place. There’s a couple of stairs just outside my door and a turn, which I knew I couldn’t traverse with my wheelchair.”
She expected it to take a long time to get approval and installation of a wheelchair ramp, or a similar solution. But, to her surprise, the day she arrived home with her wheelchair, the ramp was installed.
“I was so elated and impressed that he was able to get it done so quickly.”
Lynda took her rounds praising Julie and Mike as well – Service Coordinator and Maintenance Tech respectively – for their generosity and hard work.
“Anytime I have a package delivered to the wrong place, they bring it to me by hand right away. Usually it’s cancer medication, which is really important for me to have daily. I can’t go without it.”
I ask how she’s adjusted to life today. In an expected, upbeat response, she says, “I’m alright.”
“I really am blessed. I’ve got a great family that looks after me, and the VA has helped tremendously with paying for care and treatment. I can still be mobile with my wheelchair. On days that I feel really good we’ll go on ‘field trips’ is what I call them. We just go to Costco or Sam’s or something; places I always used to go but haven’t been able to anymore.”
“Don’t get me wrong, there are days that are hard. During chemo weeks it’s really painful at night. I’m sure I’ve woken up all the neighbors praying during those times,” she laughs, “but I just do everything that I can to follow my care instructions. In my mind, that’s my job, is to follow instructions in order to ease pains and give myself the best chance to get better. That’s my focus and look at me! I’m still here, so I’m alright.”