By Walter GeigerBarnesville mayor pro tem Anne Claxton will open the annual Relay for Life event Friday at 6 p.m. with remarks on a subject she is all too familiar with.Though she has retired from nursing, Claxton stays busy with her city duties, managing the family’s real estate assets and operating Antiques on Atlanta. She appreciates every busy moment because she survived a very close call with stomach and esophageal cancer ‘“ an ordeal that began in 2009.’I was never so shocked in my life as when I learned I had cancer. I always ate right and exercised. Then, suddenly, I learned I had a type of cancer that is almost always fatal. I thought I was a goner,’ Claxton said.Though she didn’t really have any symptoms, Claxton was in tune with her body and noticed some small changes. After a precautionary visit, Dr. Jim Barlow in Griffin gave her the bad news.’I responded to the small changes I noticed. If I hadn’t, it would’ve been too late. I had a very fast growing cancer.’She was diagnosed in August and had what was then a relatively new surgical procedure in September on the Friday of Buggy Days. She was in shape so she was a candidate for the cutting edge treatment. She spent three weeks in the hospital. After a recuperative period, she began a regimen of chemotherapy and radiation treatments that lasted from December to the following June.’I was fortunate I could have those treatments in Griffin. They say ‘˜if the cancer doesn’t kill you the treatment will’ and they are right. It was grueling,’ Claxton said.Money raised for research into innovative procedures, much of it raised at Relay for Life events, helped develop the surgery that saved her life along with the support of a community that never left her side when times got tough.’I had strong family support and strong support from my friends and the community. I have never seen anything like it. Henry Wisebram had my lunch prepared for me every day for a month. I felt every prayer raised for me. I just had a feeling of peace,’ Claxton remembered.Though she still goes for followups and blood work every three months, Claxton is considered cancer free. ‘After two years, the chances of a reemer-gence go down to 2-0%.That is almost the same as ever yone else. I have no worries about it,’ she said.Relay for Life raises needed funds for cancer research. Anne Claxton has benefitted directly from that research and will participate in Relay events as long as she is able.
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