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October 13, 2007

JIM BAILEY: For Janet Paschal, life is a rainbow

Soprano soloist Janet Paschal has long been one of the most popular members of the Gaither Homecoming Tour. She was the tour’s blonde-headed Barbie Doll, complete with slender build and perfect features, along with an appealing singing style that captivated audiences around the world.

Two years ago, it looked as if all that might be coming to an end when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

 Last year she rejoined the tour. Her theme song has become Bill and Gloria Gaither’s “It Won’t Rain Always,” and her experience of fighting and conquering the dreaded disease has given her a new appreciation for rainbows.

 Paschal’s career began as a member of the LeFevres, which became the Rex Nelon Singers after the last LeFevre retired. From there she became a member of the Jimmy Swaggart evangelistic team, then launched her own solo career. She has been on the Homecoming videos since the early days.

 She seemed to have everything going for her: Numerous industry honors, a midlife newlywed, a growing fan base and several best-selling gospel songs. Then, six years into her marriage, came the bad news.

Paschal recounted her experience in detail at a recent Gaither Homecoming appearance in Fort Wayne, telling how she faced a series of the toughest kind of chemotherapy, known as Red Devil chemo.

“I finished the chemo, then had a simple lumpectomy, and I was told it would be over,” she told the audience. That was not to be. The chemo had not worked, she was told, and another kind of chemo would have to be tried.

“My hair was just growing back in from the first chemo, and it was about an inch long,” Paschal recalled. “I asked the doctor, ‘Will I lose my hair again?’ He said, ‘Yes, but it will grow back, and it will be blonde.’” After the audience laughed, she added, “Eventually.”

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