Sonja Abbott's faith unshaken by cancer

Daughter-in-law plans walk-a-thon
By Kendra Caruso | Oct 19, 2019
Photo by: Kendra Caruso Sonja Abbott sits in her Waldo home Oct. 13 with her Bible, which has helped keep her faith strong through breast cancer treatments.

Waldo — If hope were a tiny flame above a dark ocean, Sonja Abbott would find it.

Sonja Abbott, 60, always worked behind the scenes as a caregiver for others until she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in July. She said God has guided her through the good seasons of her life, and even though chemotherapy treatments have weakened her body, her faith has not wavered.

When  her daughter-in-law, Meghan Abbott, lost three close family members in three years, Sonja supported her through the losses. She took her to church, which gave Meghan peace about her loved ones’ death.

“She’s been the light in my eyes,” Meghan said. “She comforts me with God and Jesus, but she also comforts me as a mom.”

Meghan wanted to give back to the woman who helped her navigate the difficult passage of loss and grief by planning an Oct. 26 walk-a-thon at the Belfast Boathouse. The funds will help Sonja while she is out of work.

She was not used to accepting help from others, she said. She considers herself blessed to have kind people and a close community at the Brooks Pentecostal Church that is always giving her gifts. She has received donations, a quilt, a positivity box and many more items.

But, she said it is the intangible gifts of support and prayers that have solidified her faith in humanity.

If she didn’t have her religion, Abbott said, she is not sure how she would have reacted to the diagnosis or if she would have a positive outlook. Surrendering her worries to God gives her peace with her condition, no matter the outcome.

“You’re either going to get better or bitter,” Abbott said. “And if you put your faith in God, it will get better.”

Right now she is on her way to remission. Her doctor removed a lump from her breast and all cancer with it before it could spread. She is halfway through her four-week chemotherapy treatment. Then she will go through radiation every weekday for six to eight weeks, she said.

Treatments drain her energy and make her sick sometimes, but she is aware of others with worse reactions and thinks her faith and positive attitude help ease the chemo's side effects. She will be retested several times before she is considered to be in remission.

Her weakened immune system limits where she goes, Abbott said. She attends  church at night to avoid large crowds so she does not get sick.

When her energy returns, she is looking forward to helping people with housecleaning and gardening. But she believes God has led her to a new purpose — to help others through their treatments.

Abbott is fortunate to have friends and family, like her sister Roxanne Philbrook, who came from North Carolina to help her for three months, at every treatment. Her children, Terri Tower of Liberty, Kati Health of Jackson and Michael Abbott of Searsmont, have supported her through treatments.

But she said she sees many people who get treatments alone and look depressed.

There was one terminally ill woman she helped find peace through religion. The woman saw Abbott’s positivity and was inspired. Abbott helped her accept her condition. But she reserves all glory for God, who she said works through her.

She wants to be there for those who are in the darkest season of their life and do not have the support she does.

“What the outcome I want to happen is, I want to be that person to help others,” Abbott said. “… Cancer doesn’t have to be a death card … you don’t have to be alone.”

The walk-a-thon will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, with shirts, food, a raffle, and face painting. Cost to participate is $20 for adults, $5 for children. All are welcome. For more information or to donate, contact Meghan Abbott at megabbott@rsu71.org.

Sonja Abbott sits in her Waldo home Oct. 13 surrounded by family who are supporingt her through breast cancer treatments. (Photo by: Kendra Caruso)
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