Couple takes team approach to "beat this"
Posted: Mon, Jul 2, 2012
Janice and Larry Stoney have loved each other almost since the day they met.
She was 15. He was almost 18. They both grew up in the Benson area of Omaha and went to Benson High.
They married young and had a son, and Larry watched with pride as Janice rose to the top of the business world at a time when many women didn't.
"We've always been together," he says. "We've always had a very close relationship."
They've always been a team.
Janice was 42 when she found a lump in her breast. After she learned the results of the biopsy, her first phone call was to Larry.
This happened in 1982, a time when many women who got breast cancer didn't survive. Janice, who went on to become president of Northwestern Bell a few years later and to run against Bob Kerrey for U.S. Senate in 1994, will never forget the words her husband told her that day.
They still give her tears.
"He said, ‘We'll beat this.'"
And they did. Today, the two live in retirement in Phoenix, and Janice is the picture of health. She has lived to see their son's three girls grow up. She has lived to see her first great-granddaughter.
They beat it through early detection and good nutrition and a positive mental attitude, they say, and through the grace of God.
And they beat it through their team that expanded to include the doctors and other professionals at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where Janice had her surgery and radiation and much of her follow-up care.
"One reason I love the University of Nebraska Medical Center," Janice says, "is because there are thousands of people just like me sitting in those waiting rooms, and those physicians have the real-life experience to know when to trust the test and when to go further. And I think that's so important."
Back when she was growing up, breast cancer was something women whispered about behind closed doors. She's watched the progress over the years in diagnosing and treating it.
There is more to be hopeful about now.
But there's still so much more to accomplish, the Stoneys say, in the prevention and treatment of cancer. That's why they recently made a significant planned gift, through a life insurance policy, to UNMC's Eppley Cancer Center.
"The people there, the services, the professionalism, the progress that's been made – it's indescribable," Janice says. "I'd like to see the continued progress in that trend line that (Eppley Director) Ken Cowan and the Eppley cancer researchers have developed.
"When you've got a good model and it's working, you want to keep it working."
Janice and Larry, a former state senator and executive with Mutual of Omaha, feel many blessings have come from their cancer journey.
The journey showed them that there's strength in numbers.
Janice chaired the American Cancer Society's crusade for Nebraska. (Larry had been a chair before her – and actually had accepted the invitation to serve as chair just three weeks before that day in 1982 when Janice learned she had cancer.) The people in the society became a resource to them, and an inspiration. They met many other people in similar circumstances.
The journey strengthened their faith. Janice says that faith gave her the confidence and the resolve to share her story.
And the journey strengthened their marriage – their team – even more than before.
Says Larry: "I love my wife today more than when I met her."
A Cancer Center Campus at UNMC is a top priority for the Campaign for Nebraska and will include the building of a research tower, inpatient facility and outpatient clinic. If, like Janice and Larry Stoney, you also would like to help, please consider giving online or contact the foundation's Tom Thompson at 800-432-3216.