One of the awards not announced ahead of time at the Cauliflower Alley Club reunions is the Courage Award. Past recipients are Brickhouse Brown (Frederick Seawright), in 2018, who was there in person and delivered a memorable speech, and Kamala (James Harris), who accepted his 2019 award via video, as did 2021’s winner, Jerry Grey.

At the 2022 banquet, it was women’s wrestling star Joyce Grable who was brought to the podium to accept the award, after an introduction by CAC EVP Rich Ingling.

Grable (born Betty Wade-Murphy) has valiantly fought off leukemia — postponing surgery for her induction into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame — and revealed a surprising secret during her emotional and funny speech on September 28, 2022, at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Joyce Grable and Ranger Ross share a moment at the 2022 Cauliflower Alley Club awards banquet on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Photo by Brad McFarlin

Here’s what she said:

Hello everyone, I’m just so glad to be here. Thank you to the CAC and for all the fans. And let me tell you, I’ve got a lot of fans. But I’m not going to really talk about my rasslin’ career, I’m going to talk about where I have been.

You might say I’m going to be short and sweet, but I’ve got to tell you a story before I can do the finish.

So, here we go.

In 2012, I was about to be 60 years old. And Tampa called, they were doing a lot of women’s custom matches, and SHINE was there. They wanted me to come down. I said, “I’m 60 years old! You don’t want a fat 60-year-old woman!” But they did. I got down there with Leilani Kai, Diane Von Hoffman, Sabrina, and myself, they wanted some of the older workers. We got there and five matches they had me in. Oh, my God! So here I go, the show must go on.

Right before I left, I had a little cyst on my toe, so I said, I’m going to get this taken care of. I had to do blood work.

Well, after my five matches, my phone rings, and they say, ‘You need to get back to Georgia.’ I said, ‘What’s the matter?’ They said, ‘Your platelets are way down.’ I didn’t even know what a platelet was. I said, ‘What does this mean?’ They said, ‘Well, we need to do a bone marrow scan because you might have leukemia.’ I said, ‘Oh, okay.’ I didn’t tell any of the girls. We went out, of course, and when I went back to Georgia, did the bone marrow test, I had full blown leukemia.

Well, before you do the transplant, you need to go through a heart doctor, a liver doctor, a kidney doctor, all these doctors. I put it off until I went into the Hall of Fame in New York. I was inducted and the next week, I went in for the bone marrow. I lost all my hair, ugly, bald woman, I mean, I looked like Mumbles from Dick Tracy. Ugly.

Here I am and all these doctors are coming in at Emory. But the heart doctor comes in, and he says, ‘I’m your heart doctor, and I’ve got to tell you this before you go through your bone marrow transplant, I saw some of your matches on YouTube, and looked at your echo, you were born with only two valves in your heart. The third valve never developed. You should have died your first match. There’s no way you could have wrestled 20 years.’ I said, ‘I did!’ Somebody was up there taking care of me. He said, ‘If you live through this bone marrow transplant, we’ll fix your heart. But first, you’ve got to pull through this.’

That made me dig in. I was stronger, a lot of tears, but I got through it.

A year later, thank goodness, they put a pig’s valve in my heart, so now I have a pig valve. No wonder I’m fat!

But God was good to me. I mean, I’m still here!

The first week of November, I’ll be 70 years old.

God bless everybody. I love you, I love the CAC and I hope I can come back next year. Thank you.

TOP PHOTO: Joyce Grable with her CAC Courage Award. Photo by Brad McFarlin