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Cloudts to Andrews: passing on love, hope

Bob and Nancy Cloudt had to be persuaded mightily by the staff to tell their story to The Herald Gazette for the Barnesville community. They stopped by the office to buy a bow to support fire chief Steve Andrews, though they will have to return to Texas very soon. That’s who they are — no matter what they go through, they still help others. ’I don’t want this to be about us,’ Nancy said. ‘Right,’ said Bob. ‘We are not special, but God is.’ Their faith has seen them through an unbelievable ordeal after Bob’s cancer diagnosis. He had an adenocarcinoma tumor, Stage 4, affecting the whole left side of his face, his nerves, hearing, eyes, teeth, eating capability — and even his famous smile. The Cloudts, Barnesville residents for 38 years, have been deeply involved in good works both for their First Baptist Church and for the community. Worldwide service came when they participated for 16 years in filling shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, and were leaders of the project when First Baptist became a relay center for the overseas ministry. Nancy is a retired school nurse, and Bob says he will ‘probably be retired too’ from his post as an insurance agent in Georgia. They also have been active in Relay for Life in Barnesville; Bob was finance chairman for the American Cancer Society event for three years. The couple traveled to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, after a Griffin doctor gave them the diagnosis in December 2015. They have been in Texas since January 20 of this year, with a short visit home in February, just before his surgery. The March 9 operation removed his left mandible (jawbone), saliva gland, gums, teeth and 46 lymph nodes. Then the doctors helped reshape his face with tissue, muscle and ner ve grafts from his thigh, Nancy said. He has taken multiple chemotherapy treatments, and the followup radiation starting this week in the cancer center. Sometime after all that, there will be plastic surgery to help him close his left eye and ‘look more normal.’ Bob’s hair is coming back, but not fast enough for a three-yearold grandson, who asked, ‘Grandpa, when you going to get your hair back on?’ Through it all, they said, ‘we have had peace in our souls ­God’s got this.’ Both agreed that the hardest part for them has been ‘being away from Barnesville and our friends.’ There has been overwhelming support for them, including a fundraiser star ted by the Berea Sunday School class at FBC, ‘and it’s not even my class,’ said Bob. The late Neil Anderson, also known for his community help and wonderful spirit, was the teacher of that class. Nancy and Bob have three children, Kevin, a software expert who works all over the world and is now in Costa Rica; Michael, an account coordinator for south Florida in Palm City, Fla., and Lisa Lake, a former marine biologist and now fulltime mom who is expecting her third son in May. Then there will be 1-0 grandchildren in all, said Nancy. ’We have not managed all this by ourselves,’ Nancy said. ‘We have felt every prayer from our family, friends and community, and people we don’t even know are all praying for us. We’ve gotten a steady flow of encouraging emails and notes and calls, and I think this is one reason why we have such peace.’ Bob got some inspiration from his agreement with a radio pastor: ‘When you’ve got something too big for you to handle, hand it to Jesus. I did, and that’s why I’m not worried.’ He added, ‘When the fundraiser came up, it was like God saying once again – ‘˜I told you, I’ve got your back.” They say being in Barnesville, even for a short while, is as comfortable as putting on old gloves or shoes ­’it’s just home.’

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