I can only call it divine intervention
If awards were given out to the community that exhibits the highest degree of compassion toward cancer survivors, Dawson County would win hands down. I attended my first Survivors' Dinner this past Thursday night in the cafeteria at Dawson County High School. I hadn't planned on attending, but I got a special invitation from Roger Slaton, chair of the Survivors' Committee. Roger had never asked me to attend anything, so when he made a special point to call me over after a recent school board meeting, and ask if I was coming, well, I couldn't say no.
It was two days later the day before the dinner I learned my husband Randy was diagnosed with colon cancer. During a routine colonoscopy, his physician found and removed several cancerous polyps one of them was more than an inch long. This wasn't even the worst part the worst part was he got the news while alone in a hotel room. He was traveling for work. We couldn't hug each other. We couldn't comfort each other. There were just tears and long moments of silence during our calls. A plan for treatment will be made in a doctors appointment in the next few weeks.
It didn't make it any easier that, at the time, I was dealing with an annual case of vertigo which left me unsteady and in a neck brace.
The first person I saw in the parking lot at the high school was Linda Townley. I was a bit wobbly and asked if she'd hold my hand. She willingly reached out. We talked for a few moments on our way in, and she openly shared part of her survivor story.
City Council member, Angie Smith, started off the evening with a spiritual, encouraging song. Her voice is beautiful. I started getting misty-eyed.
Several "Honorary Chairperson" certificates were given out by Roger to honor families who had lost loved ones. Anna Miles spoke about her son Kenneth Stewart, 12, who lost his battle with a rare form of brain cancer in March. It was then the tears started coming.
There was a brief lull in the program while dinner was being prepared. And, for some reason that I can only describe as divine intervention, I was compelled to ask Roger for the microphone. I read the group the text message from my husband. "I have colon cancer." It was then a river of crocodile tears came pouring down my face. I can't remember exactly what I said, but I know I ended with, "If you see me around town and I look like I'm having a bad day, all I probably need is a hug."
When the program ended, I was suddenly surrounded by nearly a dozen people every one of them hugged me and gave me words of encouragement, advice and shared part of their own stories.
If there was ever a time and place for this to have happened to my family, I'm glad it was in Dawson County. People here have a compassion like I've never seen.
Several Lady Tigers from the girls basketball team tenderly placed medals around the survivors' necks. It was only a few weeks earlier when they were the ones getting medals for making it to the state championship game in Macon.
There was one individual, Aline McClure, who has survived cancer for 51 years. She is my new hero.
I left that night with a much lighter heart. I felt unburdened.
Thank you so much for what y'all did for me that Thursday night. I will never forget it.