By CATE MCCRORY and KATIE EUBANKS
Tara Cummins’ baby girl, Journey, was always happy and smiling. When her stomach got a little bigger at six months old, “I thought nothing of it,” Tara says.
“(But) a friend of mine who had a little girl at the same age thought there was something wrong.”
An MRI revealed a mass in Journey’s abdomen, and Tara took her to Children’s of Mississippi, where she was scheduled for surgery — but the wait was going to be too long.
“My mother’s intuition kicked in because I knew Journey didn’t have the time the doctors wanted to wait,” Tara says. “I told the doctor that she needed the surgery this week, and she got onto the schedule.”
After surgery, Journey seemed better and stronger — but the mass was definitely cancerous. Two weeks later, she started radiation and chemotherapy. Four months into her eight-month chemo plan, her scan was completely clear — but at the eight-month treatment scan, a tumor had grown on the artery of her heart. By then, she was 16 months old.
Journey had surgery once again and the doctor got as much of the tumor off the artery as possible, but she had to continue chemo.
“During this time, it was Halloween and the hospital was passing out costumes. One was a lamb. This was what Journey was supposed to be (when she got sick), and it was such a God thing that she got that costume again.
“There were things of God all over — it was unbelievable.”
Tara had always done her best to stay faithful to God, but she had no peace about her daughter’s situation until surrendering her to the Lord.
“Hard times will bring you closer to God, and I felt that I had no other choice but to give her completely over to God and say, ‘If I can’t take care of her, You can.’ This is what began to give me peace.”
In March 2018, Tara’s father-in-law passed away, and at the funeral, one of the pastors came to Tara and her family and said, “I’ve seen it in a dream that the same God who took (your father-in-law) is the same God who will heal Journey.”
After treatments began to fail, “(I believed) chemo wasn’t the answer, surgery wasn’t the answer. We needed divine healing,” Tara says.
It was placed on Tara’s husband’s heart to check out St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Journey underwent a seven-hour surgery there and wound up staying for two weeks. The staff was amazing, Tara says. The surgeon came out after surgery — exactly one month after Tara’s father-in-law’s funeral — and said the tumor just slid off.
“I had tears of joy for days, because months prior the doctor said it was extremely difficult, and now the surgeon said it just slid off.”
Since then, Journey has been cancer free. All told, she had cancer for a year and a half. She is now 6 years old.
Telling Journey’s story
After experiencing Journey’s healing, Tara promised God that, “no matter what happens in life, Journey’s miracle would be told, so that He would get the honor and glory, because the favor of God was wrapped in all of this.”
One day, a friend brought a gift basket over, and it contained a journal and pens. Tara knew she would write a book, but after the last surgery she struggled to write because she felt as if she was reliving it. She quit writing for months. Then out of the blue, a publishing company called her. She had no idea how they’d gotten her number.
She laughed and thought, “OK, God, I’m going to finish it.”
In September 2020, she published “How to Survive Your Child’s Cancer: A Journey.”
“The point of the book is survival does not always mean living. Surviving is preparing your mind for whatever the Lord has willed for your life.
“Since I’ve published the book, people have called me from other states and shared the impact the book has had on them.”
Tara hopes Journey’s story will raise awareness so her type of cancer can be caught early. Also, “In the hospitals there was very little hope, and we need a good story for people to hold on to,” Tara says.
“How to Survive Your Child’s Cancer: A Journey” can be purchased on Amazon.