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Mother, daughter experience miniature miracles
Raffle win, prayers and acts of kindness help Carder family deal with cancer battle
Janice Carder, bottom, recently ran into some luck as she won the annual Rubber Duck Derby grand prize. The $10,000 windfall comes as she is battling cancer with support from her daughter, Tonya.

What’s next?
Janice hopes Wednesday is her last radiation treatment. After that she will check in with Dr. Green’s office and discuss what the next steps will be.

Giving it to God is how Janice Carder is coping with her cancer.

For Carder, who was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013, the battle has been constant ever since. The 61-year-old said cancer has caused her to look at things differently.

“The little things that used to bother me don’t anymore,” Carder said. “Little things like someone pulling out (in traffic) in front of Tonya (Janice’s only child). To me, we didn’t have an accident. We weren’t hit, just let it go.”

Janice and Tonya have also seen and experienced the little miracles God has worked in their lives.

For Janice, a $10 purchase of two ducks for the annual Rubber Duck Derby in May led to her winning the $10,000 grand prize. The Gainesville woman used the money to pay off some debts.

For Tonya, a simple act of kindness from her co-workers at Gainesville Middle School touched her heart.

One day the teachers on her team came into the lobby and circled around her while the Rev. Jimmy Whelchel led them in prayer.

“Everyone prayed for my mom and that meant a lot to me,” the 36-year-old teacher said.

The connection between mother and daughter is also unparalleled. The two have always been close — not just as mother and daughter, they say, but as friends.

“She’s the only one, I couldn’t have asked for a better one,” Janice said of her daughter.

Tonya helps her mother with whatever she can. She helped her with the care of a colostomy bag. She helps her with appointments and is generally there to literally, and figuratively, hold her hand.

“I don’t know what I’d do without her,” Janice said of Tonya.

In a show of support for her mother, Tonya also once shaved her head.

Janice’s husband, Jerry, is also one of her caretakers and has been a constant source of support during her cancer battle. He has spent many hours helping her, sometimes taking time off of work to take her to radiation treatments.

 Both women said they have leaned on the Lord during their difficult times, especially when Janice was diagnosed.

“I wasn’t really crying. I was in shock,” said Janice, who was at work when she found out she had cancer three years ago. “Even Dr. (Andrew) Green, when I went and talked to him, he said ‘Janice, if you don’t cry, I’m really worried about you because you’re bottling it in.’”

Tonya had no problem shedding tears following her mother’s diagnosis and treatment.

“I tried not to cry around her, because I don’t want to get her down,” she said. “But I always used to have a morning cry in the shower, because I knew she was asleep.

“It just devastated me and I just always prayed to God, please don’t take her from me because I don’t know if I can take it.”

The pair have proven they can take everything cancer has thrown at them, including chemotherapy, surgery, colostomy bags and radiation treatments.

The journey started in April 2013 when Janice was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After a surgery, Janice had a portion of her large and small intestines removed and a colostomy bag was put in place. She went through chemotherapy and went into remission. Almost 29 months later, doctors removed the colostomy bag.

“The Lord, he gets me through it all,” Janice said. “I know a miracle happened when I had the colostomy reversal and also when I had my ovarian cancer. I just had so many prayers going up for me I just knew it was God who got me through it.”

But then in August 2014, the cancer reared its ugly head again. A trip to the emergency room resulted in the news that the cancer had spread to Janice’s brain.

She underwent treatments, but the ovarian cancer returned. It led to more chemo treatments.

“People don’t realize how blessed they are to be walking around healthy,” she said.

Janice said as of now there are no days that she feels good. She has several lesions on her brain and takes steroids to reduce the swelling.

“It makes me loopy. It makes me stagger. She has to hold on to me so I don’t fall,” Janice said of her daughter.

In March 2015, Janice took an early retirement for her job in purchasing. At that point the cancer had made it hard for her to do everyday tasks such as writing.

And while some of her friends and family question why Janice is sick, she accepts the path laid out before her.

“Who am I that this can’t happen to me? I’m no better than the next person and I felt that way, still feel that way,” she said. “I am no better than the Bible characters, than people who get cancer every day, why should I be eliminated?”

But the prayers and support the Carders have received from the community have amazed them.

“I can’t thank them enough, there’s no way to convey how I feel,” Janice said.

The woman, who attends Free Chapel church in Gainesville, said the disease has taught her to depend on the Lord more.

“He’s my only hope,” she said. “I believe he led me to every doctor that’s been in my care.”