Life is mostly froth and bubbles,
Two things stand like stone.
Kindness in another’s troubles,
Courage in your own.
Stacy Beyrodt had originally heard this Adam Lindsay Gordon poem when Princess Diana said it on a mine-sweep mission. It resonated with her then and remains meaningful to this day. Even when faced with adversity and challenge, Stacy retains a positive outlook, laughs loudly and often, and champions those who dedicate their hearts and time to help others.
Stacy and her husband Ron met in South Florida on E-Harmony. She said they dated for six months before getting married because both were in their mid-30s and old enough to know what they wanted in a spouse. After a month of talking by email, they decided to meet and discovered they lived within a mile of each other. Stacy said their streets literally connected, so she jokes that she probably fussed at him before they ever met because she is a grandma driver and he drives like a maniac.
The couple moved to Tennessee from Florida in 2008. Stacy and Ron landed in LaVergne in 2011 because they found a house they loved, was affordable, and located in a great neighborhood. It has a large fenced-in yard that allows her dogs, Suzy and Sugar, to run. Stacy’s dogs are her children and even after being attacked by one, Stacy has focused on rehabilitating the aggressive behavior rather than putting the pooch down.
Stacy thought the personality change in her dog could have been triggered by her own medical condition. The dog may have sensed early-on what doctors diagnosed in 2013 after Stacy had gone to the emergency room at Stonecrest Hospital because of shortness of breath, coughing, vomiting, and fever.
About five minutes after a chest x-ray was done, her self-diagnosis of bronchitis was shattered when the ER doctor and a hospital administrator walked in to her small room dragging chairs behind them. They told Stacy that she was experiencing congestive heart failure and required immediate surgery. Stacy’s father had died from congestive heart failure, so she asked what had caused hers. The doctors responded that she had a large mass in the middle of her chest. She said after hearing those words, she entered a dreamlike state and everything began moving in slow-motion.
Finally Stacy looked at her husband and said in her best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, “It’s a tumor.” He replied in his own Terminator voice, “It’s a tumor.” Throughout their marriage, they had always joked with each other saying those words, and this time it really was a tumor. Ironically a week prior to the cancer diagnosis (and before she ultimately decided she had bronchitis), Stacy had posted on Facebook that WebMD said she was dying of cancer. And technically she was with the diagnosis of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
It was at this time in her life that she learned the absolute importance of positivity, friendship, and laughter. Literally weeks before her diagnosis, one person had reached out to become her friend on social media after a hilarious sighting of a dog trotting along the road with a deer leg in its mouth and suspicion that it was her dog.
This new friend invited Stacy to a birthday party for “July babies” and she was warmly welcomed by everyone she met. Stacy said, “I felt the person who had the strongest impact on me was Tony. He greeted me by throwing his arms out and hugging me like I was his sister and he hadn’t seen me in a year. We immediately connected and started laughing.” Stacy said after Tony, everyone else also made her feel important and loved. She had worn a scarf around her head because her hair, her eyelashes, and her eyebrows were gone. Stacy said she met her new circle of friends when she was at her worst and came home that night to find all kinds of friend requests on Facebook. These people who came into her life totally unexpectedly that night were by her side through the toughest battle she ever fought. They were by her side as she fought for her life and she had nothing to give back to them. Every single day someone called or texted Stacy to see if she wanted a smoothie or a ride to her chemotherapy treatment or just company.
Where one friendship took root, suddenly Stacy found herself surrounded by a huge circle of friends. Stacy never felt uncomfortable around her new friends, and asked them to tell her their favorite cancer jokes. Her favorite was, “People who don’t laugh at cancer have no sense of tumor.”
Stacy felt that she could be miserable and scared and sad and have cancer. Or she could be positive and laugh and have love and have cancer. Either way she was going to have cancer, so she chose love and laughter. Today Stacy’s hair is back, including the hair on her chin. She celebrated when that one chin hair that she always plucked had gloriously disappeared from the chemo. And that same hair was the first one that grew back! At this point, Stacy is in survivorship. In another year and a half if the scans continue to be clean, she will be in full remission.
I asked how the city could improve and Stacy believes that volunteerism is the heart of La Vergne. She wishes that everyone who lives here would represent their city in that manner – as a caring community that helps when and where help is needed. She cited the work done by members of the Box 100 rehab group as an example of the generous volunteer spirit.
Stacy said while all the members motivate her, she is especially inspired by the chief. Stacy said when Laura was kicked off of a city board that she had served on selflessly and gave her time when she had no time to give, her answer to that was not to be mad and sulk. Instead she shrugged it off and joined Habitat for Humanity to help build homes. Stacy said Laura is her mentor and all Box 100 volunteers are her inspiration. “That’s a big statement when you’re talking to someone who lives in the volunteer state,” she said.
Stacy also has the heart of a volunteer. Every week she helps out at the La Vergne Senior Center. If you know Stacy, you know she loves food so when her friends began posting photos of the lunches served at the Senior Center every Friday, she joked about speeding up her aging process so she could join. Instead of making her wait until she turned 55, her friends invited Stacy to help out in the kitchen on Friday. She has been a dedicated volunteer for 18 months now – or about 72 meals (give or take)! Today, Stacy loves hosting the elderly friends she has made at her own home for holiday dinners.
And now she knows that in La Vergne, sometimes friends are more than friends. Sometimes they are family. And that is what Stacy loves about La Vergne – the boundless love and compassion in the hearts of people who live in this little city.
Five years ago, I began a series called “We Are LaVergne” to feature residents and and others who either live here or make a strong impact on our city. I am proud to reintroduce “We Are La Vergne (2.0)” to our readers! If you would like to be interviewed, send a message through our This is LaVergne Facebook page."We Are LaVergne: Stacy Beyrodt",