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This is not a town, it’s a family

By Kay S. Pedrotti Barnesville’s Maggie Page calls her breast cancer experience ‘a little story’ compared to the heart-wrenching physical and mental pains that some cancer patients go through. ’But it’s a big story to me,’ she added. ‘That word ‘˜cancer’ was not something I ever expected to hear. Heart trouble runs in my family, so I spend a lot of time trying to take care of my heart­eating right, exercising, regular checkups, and so forth. There’s no cancer in my family, so ‘˜shocked and stunned’ describes me when I got the diagnosis in May of 2013.’ She has an interesting story about how she discovered the lump in her left breast. She loves to garden, and one day spent a couple of hours wielding clippers on her lantana bushes. At the end of the day, she felt stiff and sore in her shoulders and pectoral muscles and began to massage her chest in the shower. ’That’s when I found the lump on the left side,’ she said. ‘Since it was large enough to be detected by me, I knew it was something that needed attention very soon. I really wondered about it, because it seemed like I’d had regular mammograms ever since Adam left the garden and nothing ever showed up. On my first visit with the cancer surgeon, they lost me. I literally stayed for hours in an exam room and no one knew where I was.’ Things finally coalesced and Page received the diagnosis: ‘I was put into a room with a single round table and a box of tissues in the middle; I knew it wasn’t good.’ The doctor said she could have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, meaning complete breast removal. She chose lumpectomy and the surgery was done about four days later. Then, she added, she had to have more surgery because ‘he said the margins were not clear.’ Despite the need for more tissue removal, she did not have lymph node involvement. She was given about four weeks to recover from the surgery, and then started radiation treatments, five days a week for six weeks. Page has had a variety of jobs in her life but values most of all the fact that she has been a Barnesville resident since 1989. She grew up in Farmville, Va., ‘which looks exactly like Barnesville – old commercial buildings, a depot, a college, a street full of beautiful houses running out from the downtown past a court house.’ She is retired from Southern Bell after having worked some years also in the welcome center at Gordon State College, part of the admissions department. In her third year of ‘cancer free,’ Page is active in the community, serving as president of the Barnesville Friends of the Library and working with others. She is especially passionate about volunteering to help build an animal shelter. There are five cats in her life who are really good company, she said. ’Barnesville women, in particular, are just angels. Just a covey of angels waiting for someone, anyone, who needs help with anything. My friend Faye Walker was with me the whole time through the cancer experience, and we have been fast friends and walking buddies for years. I couldn’t name all the people who helped me,’ she vowed. ‘This is not a town, it’s a family.’

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