Cancer Was Actually a Blessing

by | Jun 4, 1999 | Blessing, Suffering

Regina (Regi) Langworthy was a teen-age bride, and a mother by her eighteenth birthday. At 19, she had already divorced, and by age 21, she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. “What a start on life!” She says. Regi loved children and had wanted more. But it was not to be. The next several years were difficult as she worked at low-paying jobs and endured several surgeries. But her love for her little boy kept her going.

Then, things began to look more hopeful. Regi celebrated her 30th birthday cancer-free. And soon after, “I met the most wonderful man, and we married two years later,” she says. “John Copenhaver) had never been married, and had no children, and he knew that we would be unable to have any.” It was a sorrow for both of them, but they accepted the situation.

Shortly after the wedding, Regi’s brother became terminally ill, so Regi, John and her son moved to Florida to help support the family. By the time Regi’s brother died, they had put down roots in the area, and decided to stay. Because Regi loved children so much, she opened a home-based day care for kids from newborn age to five years old, who were already in temporary protective custody. “Their parents were usually in drug and alcohol rehab,” says Regi. “A lot of the time, abuse was also involved. It was both wonderful and heartbreaking to work with these children. The hardest part was releasing them to go back to abusive families. Many would return to protective services again and again.”

Regi’s day care business grew quickly. Along with her talent and love for these children, she was also open around the clock! (“From being a single mom, I realized that there were times when you have to work nights, and I usually had four steady “over-nighters.”) A woman came in to assist in the early afternoons, and John helped in the evenings. “Our weekend outings always included one or more children too,” Regi says. “But we didn’t mind. We were very attached to all of them.”

One morning Regi was asked to go to a shelter and observe a ten-month-old, born addicted to crack and thus developmentally handicapped. “Ivan cried all the time,” Regi says. “But there was something in his eyes when he looked at me.” Yes, she told the social workers. Although she had never taken a foster child, she would take Ivan. And over the next several months, Ivan learned that there was no need to cry. In his new home, there was love in abundance.

After several months, Ivan was allowed regular visits with his biological mother. But he always returned dirty-and again, crying. How could Regi stand by and watch Ivan’s hard-won gains evaporate? God had always been with her as she cared for these special children, but now she prayed even harder that, in some way, this little boy would be saved. And soon her prayers were heard. Ivan’s mother returned to drugs, and decided that since the courts would no doubt take him away from her eventually, she would rather give custody to Regi and John instead. “After much paperwork, he became our son!”

During this time, a female family member had left her eleven-month-old girl with Regi, “just temporarily.” “Brandi was a chubby little girl who sat and looked through sad eyes, not talking or making any sounds,” Regi recalls. Unbelievably, Brandi was eventually freed for adoption too, and she became their daughter!

Today Ivan is almost seventeen, a very normal young man, active in sports and on the honor roll. Brandi is almost sixteen, gets good grades, enjoys sports and is beautiful, says her proud mom. Both have known from the beginning about their backgrounds. All they really needed, says Regi, was security and love.

Regi still battles health problems, but as she looks back, she wouldn’t change anything, not even her cancer. “I honestly believe that God knew there would be two babies who would need us as their parents, and He led us to them,” she says. “Had I not been sick, I probably would have had a much different life. In its own way, the cancer was actually a blessing.”

And in her own way, Regi lived by faith–and has made the world a better place. Happy Mother’s Day to her, and to all earth angels who mother “the least of these.”

Copyrighted by Joan Wester Anderson, used with permission. Originally appeared on the Where Angels Walk website,


Cancer Was Actually a Blessing