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Relay for Life Liberty County 2021 is planned
Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful Executive Director Karen Bell. - photo by Denise Etheridge

We Relay …. For A Cancer Cure!  

This is the theme for Relay For Life Liberty County 2021. I never had cancer, but I know many who passed away or are survivors of cancer.  Relay took a whole new meaning for me when I learned Mrs. Joan Fredrickson’s story.  Joan was diagnosed the first time in August 1997 at the age of 49.  Then again in November 1998, December 2010, and again in September 2019.  She told me the last time has been hard for her.  Cancer has metastasized into her liver, right lung, and one lymph node. The first time she was diagnosed, the doctors caught it at stage 1.  The other times it was at stage 4, and she is a fighter “Survivor.”  

Her cancer was initially found during a routine mammogram.  That is why it is important to do self-exams and get your mammograms regularly.  When Joan first found out she had cancer, she was devastated but not surprised because of her family history.  Her mother had breast cancer, and she also has two brothers who passed away from cancer and three brothers living with cancer now.

She stressed that she always had a fantastic support group.  Her family is always there for her, and she has the most incredible friends, who are always there.  Her friends will not let her sit home and feel sorry for herself.  She said, “It’s been rough, but I know with the support I have, I will be okay.  I don’t know what I would have done without my husband, who has been my rock throughout all this.”   

In 1997, Joan had a lumpectomy then 37 rounds of radiation, and when cancer came back in 1998, she had a mastectomy and was put on Tamoxifen for five years.  If that was not enough, in 2010, cancer returned in the other breast, and she chose to have a mastectomy along with taking Aramadex for five years.  In 2019, it returned in a muscle behind where the breast was, and Joan had to have six rounds of chemotherapy and 37 rounds of radiation.  Joan is a fighter and has tremendous faith in God, so she does what the doctors say, then puts it in God’s hands!  She is on two cancer medications, which hopefully will keep her cancer under control. 

The American Cancer Society needs events like Relay For Life to help fund cancer research.  I asked Joan what message she would like to provide to anyone going through the cancer process?  She said, “I told my story in hopes that it would help someone else and say that you can still enjoy life after cancer.  The most important thing to know is that you are not alone.  If you need to talk, find someone.  I am always willing to talk to anyone that needs reassurance.  Please do not try to do this alone and find a specialist in the type of cancer you are battling.  I have been doing this since 1997, and I always had a Relay team up until a few years ago - stay active, don’t sit home.  As you can see - you can survive this horrific disease.  God bless all of you, and remember to pray for guidance.”

Liberty County Relay is on May 14, 2021, and due to COVID-19, it will be a drive-thru at Bryant Commons.  It is from 7:00pm to 10:00pm, and the Luminaria Ceremony will start around 8:30pm when it gets dark.  We will have teams set up around the route to hand out information, giveaways and accept donations.  We also have DJ Joe Ford, providing music as you drive the route.  


For more information or sign up, contact Karen Bell at kbellshape@gmail.com or Relay For Life Liberty County GA website or Facebook page.


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