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Button Gwinnett staff rallies for parapro

Fundraisers help family with medical bills

POSTED: January 3, 2014 1:30 p.m.
Photo provided/

William Dover shaves Button Gwinnett Elementary School teacher Jung Neiman’s head in December as students, faculty and parents watch. Neiman promised to shave her head if others helped her raise $3,000 for her friend, Anttonia Hofmann, who is battling cancer.

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Few women would willingly part with a crowning glory of hair in front of a large audience, but Button Gwinnett Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Jung Neiman did just that last month to help her friend, media aide Anttonia “Hoffie” Hofmann, who is battling cancer.
Neiman pledged to have her head shaved once $3,000 had been raised to help Hofmann with mounting medical and other expenses. The public shearing was conducted during the school’s Dec. 3 after-school PajamaRama.
“We had about 500 students, parents and siblings in attendance that night,” Neiman said. “Many came just to see the shave.”
“I was so amazed at the people in our community,” Hofmann said. “It’s been amazing how people have been pouring out. I was supposed to be there, but I was feeling really down after chemo.”
Hofmann said her friends cheered her up by bringing a video for her to see after the event. She said the funds raised “helped us with medical bills and to get through the holidays.”
Hofmann’s husband, Bill, a mechanic, was out of work for several months due to a hand injury and resulting surgery. The couple has two sons, ages 18 and 15, and an infant granddaughter.
Hofmann said she has been touched by the support of her co-workers, friends and family.
“People have been very close,” she said.
Neiman created a Go Fund Me page for Hofmann on Nov. 10 and linked it to Facebook. As of Dec. 30, $4,650 had been raised by 74 people in one month, according to the most recent postings. The goal is $5,000, Neiman wrote.
She said many of the teachers also helped Hofmann and her family by delivering meals.
Neiman posted that Hoffman is “kind, loving and genuine,” and said, “She always has a smile on her face and always has a kind word.”
Neiman wrote her friend is now facing a “third round with cancer.”
“After battling cervical cancer and kicking its behind, it came back and was found in her lymph nodes,” she said. “Never a quitter, Hoffie fought back and won round two. But cancer is a stubborn beast and has returned, this time in the form of metastatic lesions on her other lymph nodes.”
The teacher ends her post with, “I know it’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but every little bit is appreciated and very needed.”
Hofmann has been employed with the Liberty County School System for about 10 years. Now 38 years old, she first was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2007 and had a hysterectomy, she said.
“I had chemo and radiation last year,” Hofmann said. “I finished treatments in May.”
She came back to work at the start of this school year, but began experiencing back pain in October. She said a scan was done and her doctors found the cancer had spread to other lymph nodes.
Hofmann said she will undergo another round of chemotherapy this month in an attempt to cut off the flow of blood to the tumors in her lymph nodes to shrink them. She said her physicians want to “try to maintain (the tumors) where they don’t grow,” but her latest treatment won’t actually rid her of the tumors. The media aide is being treated at Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah.
Hofmann said her husband of 20 years, Bill, has remained steadfast at her side during her illness.
 “He was my first boyfriend,” Hofmann said. “We were military brats and met in Germany. I think we know everything about each other. He’s just an awesome husband, an awesome caregiver.”
The parapro said she would like to recover as quickly as possible so she can return to what she loves doing — working with students in the school media center.
Hoffman said she misses media-center activities, such as book week and helping children reach their reading goals through the Accelerated Reader program.
“I just love it,” she said. “In our school, (the media center) is in the middle of the school. I just love being in the library.”
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