Courage and Faith: How Ms. Joyce Mims Faced a Challenge With Grace
When misfortune strikes, we tend to cry, “Why? Why does this have to happen to me?!” But when Ms. Joyce Mims was diagnosed with throat cancer back in January 2019, her response was, “Why NOT me?” Her husband, Judge Larry Mims, said that he was shocked — that the news came out of nowhere and that there were no indicators whatsoever. Ms. Joyce sat there in the doctor’s office, facial expression unwavering, and responded to her diagnosis calmly with, “OK. We got this. God’s got this.” The amount of courage and faith contained in those few words is utterly amazing and, according to Judge Mims, shaped their entire journey.
It all started when, one evening after dinner, Ms. Joyce began losing her voice. At first, she thought she was coming down with a cold. As things progressed, she went from doctor to doctor, having x-rays taken to no avail. Finally, a gastroenterologist did a procedure called a laryngoscopy, where the doctor inserts a scope into the patient’s nose to examine the throat. The doctor found a mass near Ms. Joyce’s esophagus and told her and Judge Mims that it may be malignant.
Once the doctor delivered the news that it was, in fact, malignant, the journey for Ms. Joyce began. It was her second journey, actually, since Ms. Joyce is also a 25-year breast cancer survivor. She fought hard for a year, undergoing chemo and radiation, and eventually won her first cancer battle. Upon receiving this second cancer diagnosis, Ms. Joyce had more than enough reason to wallow in self-pity, but that was simply not an option for her.
The Judge and Ms. Joyce soon headed to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where she would receive treatment. They were fortunate enough to secure a place to stay at Hope Lodge. Hope Lodge is a part of the American Cancer Society and offers cancer patients and their caregivers a nurturing, home-like environment when the best choice for treatment is too far from home to commute. Not having to worry about a place to stay enables patients and their loved ones to focus on getting better, and it certainly lifted some weight from the Mims’ shoulders.
Soon, love and support from their family and the community began to pour in. Their son, M. Jay Hall, flew in like Superman. While his parents directed their attention toward his mother’s recovery, Hall took on their business back home — day-to-day household affairs as well as their rental properties and other business ventures. At the time that his wife was diagnosed, Judge Mims was three years into his retirement from acting as Tift County State Court Judge. He had transitioned into working for a local law firm but eventually pulled out of the firm and practiced law from home so that he could take care of Ms. Joyce.
Their daughter, Andrea, was also a blessing. She went to Hope Lodge and relieved Judge Mims by staying with her mother for several days every other week. That way, Judge Mims could go home and maintain his law practice. The Mims also shared how they were amazed at all the heartfelt cards, flowers, and phone calls they received. A dear friend, Ms. Debbie Richardson, even texted inspirational messages every single day throughout their journey.
Ms. Joyce praised Tift Regional and how exceptional the staff was during this time. Local doctors took it upon themselves to break away from their busy schedules and visit the Mims in Atlanta. Their hometown church, St. Anne’s Episcopal, provided “tremendous support” for the family during their challenges. The entire experience revealed just how loved and appreciated the Mims family is by our community.
Ms. Joyce went through several weeks of radiation, followed by chemotherapy. She said from the beginning that she would not use a feeding tube — and she went through a period where she could not eat. Still, true to her word, she never used a feeding tube! The determination and strength of this woman are incredible. Today, Ms. Joyce Mims remains cancer-free. She began this journey by stating, “We got this. God’s got this.” Clearly, her determination and faith carried her through.
Written by: Michelle Wilkerson
Photography by: Brandon Pham