Women of Purity: Joni Eareckson Tada
A Warrior and A Fighter
By Selma Komisky
Joni Eareckson Tada is an evangelical Christian speaker and author, founder of and CEO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, international advocate for people with disabilities, artist, quadriplegic, and cancer survivor.
She was named after her father (John) born on October 15th, 1949 in Baltimore, Maryland. At 17 on July 30, 1967 Eareckson had a serious diving accident that left her a quadriplegic in a wheelchair without the use of her hands.
Eareckson quoted in a interview, “I hit the bottom and crushed my spinal column,” she said. “Years ago rehab was not as refined as it is now. There was a lot of trial and error but I am grateful I survived.” After two years of rehab she learned how to type and to paint with a brush between her teeth. Her paintings are fine art and collected. Ken Tada met Eareckson at a local church. And they kept running into one another and sparked up conversations which led to Ken asking her out for a date. They got married in 1982 and have been happily married for 31 years today. Through it all as a couple, they say they have grown so much closer. Ken Tada said in a interview, “I’ve discovered a new side of her – she’s a real warrior and a fighter,” (ABC News.go.com).
In 2010 Eareckson also was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. She stated in a interview that she called her husband and he confirmed her suspicion of a lump on her right side. After a biopsy, she was hospitalized and scheduled for a mastectomy (ABC News.go.com). She was to have five months chemotherapy but they made the difficult decision not to follow the chemo with radiation treatment because the physical damage to her frail body would be too much.
She decided to not let the cancer overwhelm her, trust God in the midst of the journey, and not doubt Him. Eareckson in a interview with PBS said she doesn’t waste time asking questions like why cancer had to happen on top of everything else that she deals with.
“As I have learned to do over four and a half decades in this wheelchair. Put it behind you, It’s in the past, start where you are,” Eareckson shares. “This is the new baseline and get on with LIVING!” She went on to say that prayers, scriptures, and songs helped her to do chemo. One song in particular that was meaningful was “Somewhere Down the Road” by Amy Grant.
Somewhere down the road they’ll be answers to our questions. Somewhere down the road, you will find mighty arms reaching for you and they will hold the answers at the end of the road.
“That became my anthem,” said Eareckson. “Somewhere down the road this is all going to make sense. Right now, I feel sick, I feel ugly, I feel tired, weak and weary but somewhere down the road, the answers are gonna come,” (quoted during her treatment).
Today Eareckson continues to be an advocate for cancer and helps others with their disabilities as a woman of purity. She has persevered despite her sufferings with a deep love for God and great faith.
In Eareckson’s press release announcing her cancer she said, “Now believers afflictions come from a loving God, and she’s content to receive from God whatever He deems fit.”