Family keeps faith amid recent hardships

Maryanne Goddard has every reason to cry. And there are times she does.

On March 20, her 56-year-old husband, Roger, died of a heart attack. Six of their seven children still live at home.

She has been battling cancer for eight years and had a tumor removed from her skull on April 2. It could be another week before she knows if the tumor was malignant.

Medical bills have piled up. A possibility of foreclosure threatens the family's home just north of Argonia.

And yet Maryanne, 48, finds reason to smile and even laugh.

"One of my daughters asked me the other day, 'How can you still smile?' " she said. "I have to. I know God is going to take care of us."

Friday — one week after her surgery — she and her second-oldest daughter, Stefanie, 20, sat in the home of close friends Donnie and Jamie Stolz in southwest Sedgwick County and talked about the ordeal.

She jokes with Jamie about the different colored scarves she can wear around her head.

Jamie is heading up a fund-raising effort for the Goddards, including a pancake and sausage feed from 8 a.m. until noon next Saturday at the Clonmel Community Center. The day will also include a silent auction of gift baskets, raffle and bake sale.

A fund to help the family has been set up at the Farmers & Merchants State Bank in Argonia.

"We're all just working together to do what we can," Jamie said. "Maryanne is an inspiration to so many of us.

"Through all these trials of cancer, she's learned to take life a day at a time. She's real good about seeing the big picture, focusing on what matters."

Faith and family

For Maryanne, what matters most is her faith and family.

"I am Catholic," she said. "And I really and truly believe that without my faith, there's no way I could go through any of this.

"Even before Roger died, I can look back and see where God has pulled all of us through. I just know there's a better life after this."

Her father was also 56 when he died of a heart attack in 1981. Her mother died of cancer in 1994. Two sisters have died.

She's also had a daughter willing to delay her dreams to help her mom get through tough times. Stefanie wants to be a nurse.

"For the time being," she said, "I'm mom's uncertified nurse."

The other children still at home range in age from 10 to 18.

Maryanne home-schooled all of her children until last June, when a cancerous tumor was removed from her brain.

She smiled.

"Here again, God has blessed me," Maryanne said. "Every time I've had cancer, it's been operable.

"I had a seizure in June. If I hadn't had the seizure, I never would have found the cancer in time for it to be operable."

The latest tumor was beneath the bone of the skull but hadn't yet penetrated the lining of the brain. Not knowing whether the tumor was malignant has been particularly hard for Stefanie.

"I won't know how I feel until we get the pathology report back," she said. "I'm just trying to keep people together. I'm tired, but . . ."

She smiled. Very much like her mother.

Father's illness

Roger Goddard worked hard to support his large family.

Before moving to Argonia from far west Wichita a couple of years ago, he combined a part-time lawn care business with his full-time job at Farmland Foods.

The Goddards, however, wanted to live in the country, raise some chickens and see the stars at night. So they found a few acres near Argonia and Roger took a job in December 2008 at Elkhorn Valley Packing in Wellington.

About a year earlier he had been diagnosed with diabetes. But medication had the disease under control, Maryanne said.

In 2009, Roger began complaining of chest pains.

"Finally, it got bad enough he let me take him to the doctor," Maryanne said.

That was December. The lining of his heart was filled with fluid.

In February, it was determined his kidneys were failing and were working at only 25 percent capacity.

"Everything went down from there," Maryanne said. "He never got a chance to get back on his feet.

"We always say, 'Why do the good die young?' Well, God needs him up there more to do work. His work isn't done."

Hope and friends

Cancer, chemotherapy, heart attacks, death, medical bills, concerns about the house. It seemingly is too much.

"Maryanne's a rock," Jamie Stolz said.

The family has health insurance through the end of the month.

"I don't know where we'll go from there," Maryanne said.

But she has hope. And she has friends.

That alone made her smile as she looked at Jamie, who has a full day any day. Jamie and Donnie have six children, 13 years and younger, and are expecting their seventh.

Jamie's office is cluttered with the work she's doing on the fundraiser. More than 50 gift baskets have been prepared, many by folks from the surrounding small towns.

"People are crawling out from under the rocks to help," Jamie said. "Individuals are really reaching out.

"It's one of those things that needed to be done. The circumstances are so extraordinary."

Indeed they are. Maryanne understands that well.

But with a voice as firm as she can muster through her pain and sorrow, she said, "I know in the end we're going to be OK."