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Local woman fighting through health issues
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Shirley Elizabeth Coney is one tough lady. Having survived cancer, heart problems and Bell’s palsy, she’s still plugging along and is more determined than ever.
Every day, someone new is diagnosed with cancer. The disease strikes unexpectedly and knows no boundaries. However, there are so many survival stories of people who refused to give up and quit. Across the United States, millions of people stand strong and face cancer with courage and tenacity.
Coney, a native of Sheldon, S.C., and a Liberty County resident since 1990, is a cancer survivor.
“Since my bout with cancer, I concentrate on surviving. It makes me strive harder. It was scary. My aunt and uncle died of cancer,” Coney said.
“In 1999, I was diagnosed with cancer. It started as a lump on my wrist and the doctors thought it was a cyst. However, it kept moving up my arm and grew to the size of an ice cream scoop. I finally had it checked at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, and it was diagnosed as sarcoma gray two cancer.”
Coney had surgery in June 1999 and subsequently underwent two and a half months of radiation. “I am now cancer free, but I must have annual checkups,” she said.
Soon after she battled cancer, Coney dealt with another life-altering disease. “I found out in November 1999 that I had mechanical valve problems in my heart. I was having problems sleeping. It was hard to breathe because my valve was not pumping. The doctors told me I had the heart valve of a 99-year-old-woman,” Coney said. In December 1999, she had surgery to correct her valve.   
As if these two major illnesses were not enough, in 2003, Coney experienced Bell’s palsy — a type of small stroke. “My face locked up on the left side. I could not speak correctly. I am much better now and I am so blessed,” she said.
Through all the illnesses, Coney managed to remain employed, She worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Brunswick, Pooler and Savannah from 1998-2004. “I was promoted to store manager,” she said. Coney also worked at Churches Chicken. “Throughout my sicknesses, I did not receive disability.”
In October 2008, Coney started her own business. She temporarily closed it shortly after the opening, but reopened in January. Her restaurant is called Shirley’s Shack and offers a variety of home-cooked dishes. It at the corner of Griffin and Godfrey Roads in Walthourville.
“I thank God for allowing me to still work and have my own business. I feel like my kids are not ready for me to go and there is more work for me. I am enjoying my grandchildren,” Coney said. She has three children, two grandchildren and two on the way.
“We can never have things perfect. Don’t waste time worrying. We must trust and believe God and He will take care of us.”
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