Through eyes of faith

By Susan Peterson

Debra Myton always had a calling to help others.

When Debra experienced a health crisis 16 years ago, she knew that sharing her story would not only be cathartic for her but would assist others facing health issues. “Bound by Faith: The Story of an Ovarian Cancer Survivor” speaks to the power of faith and how she learned to cope with her life-altering diagnosis.   

While growing up in Brinkley, Debra was an honors student who enjoyed most subjects. She considered accounting, pharmacy and other professions. She kept her options open and earned three degrees from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville: an associate degree in office management, a bachelor’s in business education and a bachelor’s in marketing.   

Soon after graduation, she married Clausey Myton. She finally decided on education as her career path and taught in southeast Arkansas while earning her degree in administration and supervision from Delta State University. The couple had two daughters in quick succession, Nia and Jamaica. The young family enjoyed making trips to visit Clausey’s family in Jamaica, London and Canada.   

Everything was fine — until it wasn’t.  

Following the birth of their second daughter, Debra took a position as a counselor in the Little Rock School District. It was during an annual exam with a new OB-GYN that Debra was told that she had an enlarged ovary. Follow-up tests indicated ovarian cancer.  Debra was stunned because she had been health conscious and didn’t really feel ill. She ate right, exercised and had regular medical checkups. “I was more concerned with my cholesterol level,” she said. “Cancer wasn’t even on my radar.”  

After a hysterectomy and months of grueling chemotherapy treatments, one day she was brushing her hair and noticed it falling out. Rather than anguish over it, she adopted the attitude that “it must be working.” And that was the day she decided to begin journaling.   

The publication of Debra’s book was as much an accident as it was intended. Several years after returning to work, she was in the school library when a book caught her eye. It was “Divas Unchained” by Nioka Smith. The author’s name was familiar since Debra vividly remembered a talented young girl with the unusual name of Nioka who was in her class in Helena.      

Debra got in touch with Nioka to congratulate her on many achievements, including founding J. Kenkade Publishing Company, an all-inclusive self-publishing company specializing in personal life stories and Christian-themed works. Debra mentioned that she had documented her difficulties and how faith had helped her. It was a perfect match for the new publishing company. Assisting her through the process was Lauren McDaniel, another former student from Little Rock. Finally, her book became a reality in 2018.    

When Debra first received her diagnosis, her daughters were 2 and 5 years old. Today they are 18 and 21. “My faith never wavered,” she said. “I always felt God would let me be there for them.” It is this journey of faith and survival that is documented in her book.   

According to the book jacket, “Bound by Faith” is Debra’s guide on how to handle any illness that a man or woman may face in life. “This personal cancer story will make you laugh, cry, but overall, will empower you by faith.”   

Debra continues to inspire and assist others through her work as a counselor in the Little Rock School District. She also enjoys talking to groups and sharing her personal story. She and Clausey, who is also an educator, look forward to resuming their travels.  

“Bound by Faith” can be purchased online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites. 

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