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May 3, 2007 Issue

One arrested in shooting
Relay For Life kicks off Friday
We're Here

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One arrested in shooting

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Randall Boyd, 17, of Howard Street in Wrens, was arrested by the Wrens Police Department on Friday, April 27, and charged with aggravated assault and possession of firearm while trying to commit crimes. The charges stem from the shooting Thursday, April 26, of Harry Thomas, 18, of King Street in Wrens.

According to police reports, when officers arrived on the scene, Thomas was lying in a pathway leading from the 200 block of Howard Street to the Green Meadows Apartment Complex. Witnesses reported seeing Boyd follow Thomas down the path and shooting Thomas in the right leg. Thomas was transported to the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta where he was treated and was released Saturday.

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According to Wrens Chief of Police David Hannah, Boyd had been robbed two days prior to the shooting incident and was trying to shoot a person he believed was one of the robbers. Instead, he shot Thomas.

“He tried to help him up after he shot him,” Hannah said.

Police would not identify the man Boyd wanted to shoot.

“Boyd turned himself in the next day (Friday),” Hannah said. “He walked into the station and turned himself in to me. I was here.”

Hannah said the reported amount taken by the robbers was $300. He would not identify the other person wanted in that incident.

“He (Boyd) had a lot of bruises on this face and (we) heard a lot of people talking about (the robbery).”

Hannah said the weapon used in the shooting was a .380 automatic.

The investigation into the robbery is ongoing, he said.



Relay For Life kicks off Friday

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

In its 13th year, the Jefferson County Relay for Life is expected to continue the local Relay tradition and raise in excess of $100,000 for the cause, which includes raising funds to help find a cure for cancer.

“Everything is going really good,” said Vickie McDonald, co-chair of the Jefferson County Relay.

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McDonald said there are 16 teams this year. Some of those are new teams and some are teams that have been active in the past.

“I believe it is more than we’ve had in the past,” she said. “I know we have more corporate sponsors than we’ve had in the past.”

For McDonald, who is working on the Relay for a sixth year, the highlight of the event is the Survivors Lap. This event kicks off the Relay as those who have survived their battle with cancer make their way around the walking track for one lap.

“It shows we’re slowly winning the fight,” McDonald said. “Statistics show us that last year we had more survivors than before.

“I lost my mother to cancer and my father got really sick. They’re thinking that he probably had cancer. They were trying to get him well enough to do a biopsy.”

“Right after my father passed away, my sister was diagnosed (with cancer). And it made a real impact on me. My rally is to try to keep everyone well so no one will have to fight this any more. Maybe one day there will be a cure.”

Virginia Garrett, survivorship chairperson, said a reception for survivors will be held at 5 p.m., prior to the beginning of the Relay. The reception will be held at the Relay site, which is at the walking track by Wrens Middle School.

“I’m a survivor,” Garrett said. “1996 was the first time I walked in the Relay. I wasn’t real active because that was a week after my surgery.”

She first served as the survivorship chairperson in 2005, she said, and has held that position since. She said team members put the reception together and various members of the community furnish the food.

The theme of this year’s Relay is a Hollywood theme, “Roll out the red carpet for a cure.”

“The teams have picked a movie as their theme for their campsite,” Garrett said, adding there will be a lot of entertainment and after the luminary service, there will be a red carpet event.

Garrett and Rev. Roy White will act as emcees. People from the teams will dress up as characters from their movie and be interviewed. This segment of the event includes an awards show.

“We’ll have a panel of judges who will pick the best movie (best campsite), the best actor, actress and so on,” Garrett said.

Garrett said there are a little more than 300 survivors in the community and about 120 have already pre-registered.

Fund raising will continue throughout the Relay, she said.

“The Relay for Life represents hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten; that those who face cancer will be supported and win their fight; and that one day cancer will be eliminated,” McDonald said. She said working on the Relay fills a little bit of that void she feels having lost loved ones to cancer.

“And I have children and I don’t want them to face what I did losing my mother and I don’t want to lose them,” she said.

McDonald’s co-chair, Chris Dube, also has a personal story behind his involvement.

His 7-year-old son C.J. was diagnosed with leukemia in February of 2004. Besides serving the co-chair for the first time, Dube has been team captain of C.J.’s Animals for three years.

“The team was named in honor of my son,” he said, adding the team of 35 is made up of friends and family.

C.J.’s cancer is currently in remission, according to Dube who said C.J. is scheduled to end his treatment in July.

“Then they’ll consider him cured,” Dube said.

“This year, alone, we’re at $2,600,” he said of his team’s fundraising efforts. “We’re encouraging everyone to come out on Friday and Saturday to honor the survivors and to remember those that have lost their fight.”

Dube said it is his son’s diagnosis that motivates him to get involved in the Jefferson County Relay. Dube and his wife, Kelley, have two other sons, Matthew, who is 5, and Timothy, who is 8 months.

“There will be entertainment,” Dube said. “Good entertainment with different performers. There are a lot of food choices this year. A lot of the teams will be selling food.

So it will be a great place to have dinner on Friday night.”

Asked what he would like to say to the community about the Relay, Dube said he would encourage everyone, whether they are regular supporters or have never supported the Relay, to attend the event.

“I would ask folks to come out and visit with us and support the relay teams so they can assist the American Cancer Society in defeating cancer,” Dube said. “As far as folks coming out, they can hug a survivor, purchase food, or just stand and clap for the Survivors Lap, there are many ways to participate in the event and they're all just as important.”



We're Here

People fighting cancer and those who can help

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

“I’m here.”

Those are probably some of the most victorious words that could pass through the lips of a cancer survivor.

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After surviving some of the darkest days of her life, Jefferson Hospital's own Wellness Director Donna Rogers understands just how powerful those words are.

A simple doctor's visit for a sore throat changed her life forever.

After her doctor found she had stage 4 throat cancer, her schedule became filled with difficult trips to Augusta for operations, chemotherapy and radiation, trips that tired her to no end.

After sharing her experience with coworkers, Jefferson Hospital's administrators saw the need to offer the citizens of rural Jefferson County chemotherapy and letting them know, “We’re here.”

Discovery “I really had no symptoms,” Rogers said. “I had a sore throat that I treated, myself, for a week. I thought I had tonsillitis. I went to a specialist in Augusta and they found I had stage 4 cancer.”

When she heard the diagnosis, Rogers said a state of shock that set in. She had thought it was something a little medicine could cure. She was not ready to hear the word 'cancer.'

“When I was diagnosed, I was devastated,” Rogers said. “It was such a shock. It has been such an exhausting journey from there. Everything just kind of hits you at once.

“This new information just floods your head and at the time the prognosis was not good. I was just overwhelmed. I thought I almost can’t handle this. Cancer just pushes you to the limit and keeps you there for months. It stresses you as much as it can.”

Not just fair-weather friends Though Rogers' surgery and chemotherapy and radiation treatments often left her tired and nauseated, the support system she found in her family, friends and coworkers lifted her spirits and her mind set about the disease higher than any medicine ever could.

“I was blessed with a brother, sisters, children, coworkers and so many friends,” Rogers said thankfully.

“I don’t know what I would have done without them.

“If you have a support system and faith then half of the battle is won. Anytime I was at the doctor’s office or in a room by myself, I knew that just outside that door I had family and/or friends there with me. It is like I had cheerleaders.”

The other part of the battle against Roger’s cancer was the treatments that would have lifelong effects on her body. Rogers had radiation treatments every day for 33 treatments. Then she suffered through five rounds of chemotherapy.

Because of the toll it took on Rogers’ body, friends, family and co-workers set up a schedule to take her back and forth to Augusta for her treatments.

“I am so blessed to live in a community like this. It is such a help to have so many friends in the medical field who helped me to decipher medical terminology.

The more you educate yourself, the easier the journey is.”

Jefferson Hospital joins the fight It was those difficult two hours spent on the road, as Rogers was transported back and forth each day for chemotherapy and radiation treatments that inspired former Jefferson Hospital Director and CEO Rita Culvern.

“When cancer strikes in your family it really makes you understand the devastation of the disease,” Culvern said. “When Donna, who is a part of our work family, was diagnosed, she had to go through very aggressive rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.”

Many of Culvern’s employees gave up their off time to take Rogers to Augusta to receive her treatments.

“It means a lot to somebody that doesn’t have a lot of family in town,” Culvern said.

During one of the trips, Culvern said Rogers passed out.

“Thank God the employee taking her was an RN,” Culvern said. “She passed out in the car and the RN was prepared to do CPR. That just really touched my heart. How heart-wrenching this must be on someone to drive 50 minutes back and forth each day. I wondered how I could make it better. I really began to think.”

Since that day last year, Culvern and other hospital staff have worked and trained to make the battle a little easier on cancer patients in Jefferson County. The hospital now offers chemotherapy treatments on their grounds.

“We now have two oncologists that come twice a month and can come as often as once a week,” Culvern said.

“We have six nurses that have received certified training to administer chemotherapy. We have invested thousands and thousands of dollars to prepare to offer chemotherapy.

The pharmacist has also been certified.”

Jefferson Hospital began offering chemotherapy in November 2006.

“I feel like it will enhance the scope of care in our community for our people,” Culvern said. “Donna struggled through this and had strong friends and co-workers that did help her so willingly. That really makes you think of the needs of the community.” The news of the hospital now offering chemotherapy inspires Rogers for others who will fight her same battle. “It’s wonderful being able to get treatment here,” she said. “We are fortunate enough to have a hospital of this caliber in our community. In bigger cities you have to fight the traffic and find a parking place. Some days you don’t even feel like getting out of bed, much less traveling to another city to receive your treatment and it is wonderful to have this right here. Now that part will be taken care of.” Aftermath Having a war against a deadly disease play out through Rogers’ immune system took its toll on Rogers' body, but not her faith or spirit.

“I’m here and I am so glad because I wasn’t supposed to be,” Rogers exclaimed. “It was hard to deal with because one day you’re healthy and the next you're not.”

Rogers was out of work at the Wellness Center for six months before returning only part-time. Now she is back fulltime.

“Everybody pitched in to help do my job while I was gone,” Rogers said. “I was fortunate to have a job to come back to. When you treat cancer, you can’t comprehend the financial aspects.”

When Rogers finished her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, it had damaged some of her body. The radiation damaged her saliva glands, so now she has trouble eating because it is hard to chew and swallow without much saliva.

“I have day to day pain,” Rogers said. “But it is not unbearable. My life has changed and I can’t do what I used to do. I am limited on my right side. There are days when I am not sure I can make it at work, but I’m here.”

Right now Rogers is taking one day at a time while counting her blessings along the way.

“Your life is just so much more wonderful than before,” she said with a smile on her face. “When I wake up in the mornings, I am glad to be awake. For some reason, God has chosen to leave me here for a while. I am thankful and I am loving every minute of it.”

Looking back over the past months and what Rogers has struggled through, she said she knows she needed support and looks forward to walking with other survivors this Friday during the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Wrens. She was not able to be there last year because of her ordeal.

“I found out that cancer does not have to be a death sentence,” she said. “With faith, hope, prayer and a lot of support you can survive it. Be sure to support the Relay because early detection and research is our cure.”

Rogers also added that after seeing what a kind word, card or smile could do for her spirits during her trying time, she reminds others to understand the importance of the little things they do for cancer patients.

“When you’re living your life one hour at a time, it means so much,” Rogers said. “Send a card, leave a note or say a prayer, it means so much while going through the exhausting battle.”




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