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Relay for Life is tonight

By Kay S. Pedrotti Having joined an elite group of people with more than 30 years as cancer survivors, Barnesville residents Fran Boggs and Jane Nimmer definitely have wisdom to share about the disease. Both have been active with Relay For Life through the years, as survivors and as volunteers. The 30th anniversary event will be held Friday, April 10 at the recreation complex on Gordon Road. The suvivor’s lap starts at 6:15. Boggs helped found the survivors’ support group at First Methodist Church (fourth Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at the church) and Nimmer stressed in her story ‘the importance of having people around you who will support you and love you and care for you.’ Boggs, 72, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1973 — ‘a time when cancer was considered a social no-no, about like AIDS was considered when it came along.’ She had a modified mastectomy, one of about three limited choices for breast cancer at that time. Her surgeon at Emory Hospital was Dr. Douglas Murray — ‘just a young man but now retired’ — who talked with her on the phone the night before the operation about a Bible passage about trusting in God. ’It’s been 43 years since the surgery,’ said Boggs.’I’ve watched the evolution of mammograms and the improvements in treatment during my experience. Attitudes are so different now. After my surgery, I got a job teaching second grade, and though I had five years’ experience, my position was considered provisional because they weren’t sure I could physically handle the job.’ Besides knowing she could trust her life to God, Boggs said she ‘would not have made it without the love and support of my husband Richard.’ She and Richard were parents of three-year-old Chris at the time, and later she had Carrie ‘when I was not supposed to get pregnant — I just told the doctor, the Lord will do what the Lord wants to do.’ Living to see both children as successful adults and having two granddaughters confirms her faith, she said. She still goes back every year for checkups and would advise everyone who has anything suspicious, or has had cancer, not to neglect frequent medical exams. ’˜Unheard of’ cancer Jane Nimmer was 54 when she was diagnosed in 1994 with ‘osteogenic sarcoma’ in her left jawbone. She opened her story with her own requirement for telling her story: ‘Remember Romans 8:28, that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purposes.’ ‘It was unheard of for a 54-year-old woman to have this kind of cancer,’ she said. Osteogenic sarcoma is normally found in young males; she said ‘there aren’t even studies about women who have had osteogenic sarcoma.’ ’The only cure is amputation,’ she said. ‘They took a section of my fibula from the lower leg and replaced the mandible. The surgery at Crawford Long was attended by a plastic surgeon, an ENT specialist and an orthopedic surgeon, and it took 13 hours. Basically, half my face was removed. Before that, it had taken three doctors five months to diagnose what I had.’ The morning of her surgery, she reported to the hospital at 5 a.m. to find her associate pastor and 21 other people from Heatherwood Baptist in Riverdale in the waiting room. ‘A prayer meeting’ was conducted, she said, and she was supported through the five-yer-long reconstructive process. Despite hospitalizations four times with blood infections from chemo treatments, and the ‘gruesome’ process of having to have one side of her face reconstructed, Nimmer said, ‘Every bit if it has worked out for good for me. I used to be shy but now I’m more outgoing. I love to tell my story so other people can know what God has done for me.’ Nimmer and her husband Charles have lived in Barnesville for 20 years; natives of Pleasant Grove, Ala., they first lived in College Park when they moved to this state. ’I am thrilled to share this experience,’ Nimmer said.

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