By Amanda Ennis

“Blessed” and “cancer” — these aren’t two words most people would combine. To 37-year-old Greenwood resident Amy Ottney, it’s challenging to speak of her journey with cancer any other way. She usually refers to her disease as simply her “blessed cancer.”

In August 2011, just before her 35th birthday, Amy found a lump in her right breast. Within weeks, she received her diagnosis, an aggressive form of breast cancer.

“I call September my bobble head month,” she says. “There was so much news that washed over me. All I could do was just nod my head, not really understanding what our family would go through.” Amy and her husband, Steven, have three children: Zach, 7; Grace, 5; and Lexy, 3.

Amy found herself facing an uncertain future. “Are you going to die?” asked Grace. Amy did not know. What she did know was the next year would include a grueling treatment that consisted of chemotherapy, radiation and two surgeries. Greater was her awareness that her faith in God would see her through the difficult days ahead and help her choose a joyful heart.

“It’s the baldies!”

“I really don’t ever remember questioning, ‘Why me?’ I wanted to give God the glory, no matter how many days I had left.” She believes having joy in the midst of trying circumstances pointed others to God. She says she experienced joy and comfort through her trial by helping others. Some would find ministering to others during one’s own trials impossible, but Amy found it comforting. In helping, she found joy and spread joy.Baldies

As she herself struggled with losing her hair, she knew it would be difficult for her kids to accept. Amy and Steven planned a “Goodbye Mommy’s Hair Party!” With kids, balloons, treats and fun glasses, the family was ready to celebrate Amy’s new “do.” At the party, they shaved Amy’s head and took pictures. After the final shave, there was much laughter when they compared her head to her husband, Steven’s, who is also bald. “Aww, look! It’s the baldies!” joked Zach.

Throughout her cancer, Amy supported others who were battling cancer. Just five months into her own treatment, she came alongside her 31-year-old cousin who was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. “To my cousin and others, I was a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on. I was happy for her to join my ‘Shiny Happy People Club!’ I went to appointments with her and just loved her.”

“Day to day, I could laugh and encourage others with the gift of joy because of my faith in God and time spent in His Word.” Amy planned her chemo treatments around her weekly Tuesday morning Bible study, Bible Study Fellowship. Her chemotherapy was Tuesday afternoons, enabling her to receive encouragement before her treatment.

Two years before Amy’s diagnosis, her husband, Steven, was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). During the time of Amy’s cancer treatment, Steven’s doctors exhausted all treatment options and prepared him for the possibility of a lung transplant. Today, Steven, owner of ‘Comics Are Cool’ and a U-Haul location in Center Grove, still struggles with symptoms of COPD, although his condition has improved without a transplant.

KidsJoy brings hope
“Amy’s joy gave me hope,” Steven says. “Her cancer altered my viewpoint of my own health issues. When watching her, it’s hard for her joy not to be contagious!”

Today Amy is a two-year cancer survivor. She has encouraged many with a story of faith and survival. Amy and Steven have shared their journey in their local church, Stones Crossing Church. She has counseled newly diagnosed cancer patients referred through her doctor’s office. At the Pink Ribbon Connection’s Breast Cancer Survivor Fashion Show, she shared her story and walked the runway.

“We were blessed as our family, friends and church family covered us with prayers, cards, meals, a bedroom makeover and a vacation. What a joy to experience God’s love while suffering with a smile,” says Amy.

At the time of her cancer, Steven worked for his dad at Greene’s Auto in Center Grove. “Steven’s parents told him to take care of me and our family. They gave him lots of time off and job flexibility so he could,” Amy said.

“This journey helped our family have a deeper awareness of God’s goodness and presence in our lives. Why do I call this my ‘blessed cancer’? Because I can’t look back on this journey without seeing God’s blessing over my family and me at every turn. I truly saw God at work.”

Amanda Ennis.150

Amanda and her husband Dave have lived in the Center Grove area since 2001. She is a mom to three elementary-age kids, Chase, Jill and Kara. For the past seven years, Amanda has participated in and served in Bible Study Fellowship. She recently began working at Crabapple Creek Country Day School.

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