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Cancer survivor celebrates
Editor:
This year, I am a 12-year survivor and I am going to celebrate by simply taking a day off from work and thank God for being alive.
In December 1995, I found a hard lump on my right breast while getting ready to take a bath. I had lost my mother that year and promised my father to visit with him in Texas between Christmas and New Years. Somehow, I knew exactly what it was but I needed to make this trip and I wouldn’t be able to if I went to the doctor right then. So, I promised God if He would let me make this trip and not spoil everyone’s holiday, I would have it checked out as soon as the holidays were over. Then I promptly forgot about it.
But by the second week in January, my conscience caught up with me. So I said, “OK you kept your end of the deal, now it’s time for me to keep mine.” I called my doctor to report the lump and he scheduled a mammogram in a couple of days which led to an ultrasound.
Everyone wanted to believe it was a cyst but in my own mind I knew better. A visit to the surgeon to have the cyst drained was met with a solid mass. He sent the needle filled with tissue off to the lab and the next day my fears became reality. Don’t get me wrong, I thank God for these people but they knew what I had already gone through with my husband’s cancer a few years before and they did not want me to have cancer of any kind.
We started off with a 75 percent chance of recovery, but with each test my chances grew slimmer and slimmer until finally I looked at the doctor and said “Why am I even trying?” Bless his heart, he replied, “I don’t want to hear it.” So I countered with “Look at it from my point of view. I say it’s cancer, you say it’s a cyst. But it is cancer and I start with a 75 percent chance of recovery and now it’s only 40 percent.”
He said they didn’t’ want to take away my hope so they were trying to give me the best to expect. I say “Give me the best and the worse and I’ll hope for something in the middle.” The next week I had surgery.
All tests and the feel of the lump determined it to be about the size of a quarter, maybe a little larger. We had already discussed the possibility of hidden matter that wouldn’t show until he actually cut in to remove it and I had told him to do whatever needed to be done, remove a lump or the whole breast. I trusted his judgment or I wouldn’t have been there. There was so much hidden he had no choice but to remove the whole breast and all the lymph nodes because it was already spreading. I think the one word that stands out in the lab report is invasive and it was indeed invading my blood system which meant chemotherapy.
So I spent my 53rd birthday going through a battery of tests to see if I could survive that. And I have. My family, friends and co-workers were the best and I thank God for them.
Cancer will change your life, it puts everything in its proper place. Life after cancer is lived to the fullest, each day as though it’s your last. You don’t put off having fun, you don’t put off saying I love you or I’m sorry or any of the other things that you don’t really want to face. Faith and a positive attitude, family and good friends and doctors you trust and love will see you through. I know. I’m a 12-year survivor!
Shirley Wallace
Hartselle
Stop sign needed in Somerville
Editor:
I have been a resident of the Somerville area for over 18 years. Although there are several minor problems in our town that need to be dealt with, one problem has occupied my attention for the past few years. At the intersection of Highway 36 and Highway 67, a stop sign is the only thing stopping drivers from traveling at dangerously high speeds. On most occasions, a solitary stop sign is not enough motivation for drivers to proceed through the intersection with caution. Precautions should be taken before this intersection becomes an even more hazardous problem.
A few years ago, a fatal accident occurred between a motorcycle and an automobile at this busy intersection. I believe if the intersection was made into a stop light this accident could have been avoided. Members of the community also speculate that the vehicles possible didn’t find it important to proceed through the intersection with necessary precaution.
With a stop light, everyone would be forced to pay strict attention to it. This matter must be changed immediately, before it costs our small community another fatality.
The intersection of Highway 36 and Highway 67 is very near Brewer High School, the local school in the Somerville area. As school lets out daily, traffic pours into the intersection and causes extreme congestion. A new stop light is necessary to regulate the heavy traffic. Also, students that are new drivers would be able to experience “city-like” traffic without having to go into the city. The stop light could be used as an educational tool, as well as to regulate daily traffic.
I interviewed a resident of the Somerville area to see her opinion on changing the intersection to a stop light. She was in agreement that precautions had to be taken soon, before more members of the community were injured. She also added that others in the town are concerned for their own driving safety.
The intersection of Highway 36 and Highway 37 should be controlled by a stop light instead of a stop sign.
Megan Murphy
Falkville
Police escort
comforts family
Editor:
On Jan.14 my family suddenly and tragically lost our mother, and our father’s wife of 60 years, at the young age of 77 (Bonnie Sue Shepherd). As it turns out, she had what everyone thought was a bowel obstruction, went in for surgery at which time they discovered she had Stage four cancer that had spread throughout her abdominal cavity and subsequently caused her body to die within a few hours thereafter. Her death was not expected and, therefore, left all of us in shock and with a feeling of disbelief.
Almost immediately after being with her and witnessing her death, we were forced to make decisions and arrangements that we never thought we would be making at this point in our lives. Something kicks in, however, and we were all able to continue to put one foot in front of the other, only with the support of each other and through the support of so many friends and family.
Our mother was buried at Roselawn Cemetery in Decatur on Jan. 16 after her services were held at Peck Funeral Home in Hartselle. On behalf of our entire family, I cannot say enough about the genuine compassion and professionalism that was shown to all of us by Geoff Halbrooks at Peck Funeral Home. If one has to go through such a horrible experience, it is only through the interaction with someone of Geoff’s caliber and the professionalism of his staff that one can survive such an ordeal. The attention to detail and the support of our aging father (85 years old) was unbelievable.
One of the primary reasons for this letter is to comment on the funeral procession from the funeral home to the cemetery. There were approximately 20 cars in our procession complete with police escort by both the Hartselle Police Department who then passed the procession off to the Decatur Police Department. Within our procession were friends and family from other states. They have never witnessed this type of escorted procession nor have they ever seen civilians come to a stop and pull off the road to allow for the final act of respect and honor that our mother would experience on this earth.
Having graduated from Austin High School in 1969, I’ve been away from Alabama for many years living in California.
However, that “Southern girl” has never left me and never will. There is no one, and I mean no one, that would ever begin to understand or believe the importance that that type of funeral procession would hold for one’s family during such a sad time. As I said previously, there is no greater honor, tribute or respect that could have been given to our mother as there was during that drive on that sad day.
This is a “thank you” to each and every individual, whether it was a police officer, civilian or pedestrian that contributed to the entire experience that day. My mother loved attention and she was surely smiling and waving the whole time. Thank you for the gift you gave all of us…it will forever be embedded in our memories.
If, over the course of time, anyone in your counties sees the possibility of a police escort being discontinued for a funeral procession, I encourage someone… anyone… in the community to take a stance and fight to preserve that tradition. I can assure you it is a tradition that is unique to the south…and I can also assure you that it is through the southern traditions of this nature that keep us all who we are at heart. Don’t let that change, ever. Thank you again.
Judy Shepherd
Redondo Beach, Ca.
Formerly of Decatur
Thoughts on the school tax increase
Editor:
A very wise man once told me “never go back on your word, no matter what.” He said your word and keeping it is as good as the person you are. Secondly, he told me never put your cart before your horse.
In making decisions and changes, you need to always look at the whole picture, study it, take time to look at all the aspects, beneficial and otherwise, he said.
I agree Hartselle needs a new high school. I really feel most people do agree. But the people as a whole are having a problem with the keeping of one’s word and putting the cart before the horse.
First issue, the mayor and the city council all campaigned on “no tax increases.” Now, they want property and sale tax increases. This is so wrong. The majority of the tax-paying people who voted for them did so in trust.
Hartselle is not a city of wealthy people. Maybe the school board and the city leaders can afford all the tax increases but the majority cannot due to gas prices and food costs because of last year’s drought. (Also) high drug prices, not to mention the “R” word that the CNN and Fox news stations keep referring to, the recession we are going into.
Second issue -There should have been a lot of studying done on the land where the new school is supposed to be built. Bethel Road is not designed for the traffic nightmare to say the least, due to Burleson Elementary and the proposed new school. There is no solution to the traffic problem that will be out there if the school is built on Bethel Road.
For the record, there are a lot of people looking at all the facts. If the property tax does not pass, I feel it will be in part of what I have mentioned in this comment.
The wise man who told me and taught me about keeping my words and putting my cart before the horse was me hero, my dad. He was a great man of his word, he was an excellent provider for his family. I live my life by his wise advice, and I am very blessed and thankful.
Charlene Smith
Hartselle
Express your thoughts in a Letter to the Editor. Send your thoughts to P.O. Box 929, Hartselle, AL 35640
or email to news@hartselleenquirer.com.
Signed comments can be included as Letters to the Editor; unsigned ones in our E-Sound Off.

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