Have you ever had one of those mornings when you just didn't feel like getting up to go to work? You have a headache, your stomach hurts, or you just don’t want to get up. These excuses don’t hold water for Rhonda McCuen, a 34-year veteran in the Transportation Department and Safety Training Specialist at Donaldson Bus Center.
Rhonda has metastasized breast cancer that has recently taken a toll on her spine and bones. “If I can get up and put my makeup on, I’m coming to work,” she said. “I love my job. It keeps me going. I’m not going to let my illness stop me.”
Rhonda was first diagnosed with breast cancer more than a decade ago. She underwent treatment and a mastectomy. She was declared cancer-free until last Memorial Day, when the cancer returned and began to attack her bones. In September, Rhonda’s husband Dicky, Director of Operations and Maintenance and also the minister of Waycross Baptist Church, held a prayer service that was attended by more than 100 people. And that’s when an amazing and powerful thing happened.
“We were about to start the service but everyone was pointing up to the sky,” said Rhonda. “We all looked up and saw a cross that just appeared in the sky.” Scientifically, the cross was formed by two airplane contrails crossing in a crystal clear blue sky, but for the awestruck witnesses, it was anything but coincidental, said Rhonda. “That cross was a defining moment in my life.”
Rhonda and Dicky’s faith is seemingly boundless. They draw strength from the many prayer warriors that wear pink ‘Team Rhonda’ bracelets, those that pray with her, and the many that share her story. “I’m not going to lay down for this,” said Rhonda. “God is bigger than cancer and I have a big, big support team to keep me going.”
Bus Supervisor Judy Calvert has worked with Rhonda for many years. “She fills a room when she walks in,” she said. “She’s a true warrior. She has handled her circumstances with such grace,” she said. Calvert describes Rhonda as a considerate, gentle person who’s always thinking about others. “We’ve had bus drivers diagnosed with breast cancer, and she is right there with them. She has spent tireless hours counseling them, offering compassion and understanding when their hair falls out,” she explained. “The people who know her have to be inspired by her strength and faith.”
Longtime friend and co-worker Sonja DeShields said she and Rhonda have an unshakeable bond because Sonja’s mother and Rhonda went through cancer treatment at the same time. “Rhonda is one of the strongest, most generous and loyal women I know. I cherish the honor of calling her my best bud,” she said.
June Knight, DBC Manager, has worked with Rhonda for more than 30 years. “She’s more than my safety manager. She puts others first and she gets the job done, no matter what is happening in her own life.”
Transportation, maintenance and other employees are wearing ‘Team Rhonda’ bracelets to demonstrate their love and support. “I’ve been all over,” said Rhonda, referring to the truck drivers that wear her bracelets from Greenville to Virginia to Alaska. Some of the drivers have posted signs along the highway to Greenwood that say Pray for Rhonda. “I couldn’t ask for a better prayer group. Every time I see these bracelets on maintenance workers and others I know that’s one more prayer for me.”