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‘An Evening of Hope’ honors cancer survivors and fighters

‘An Evening of Hope’ honors cancer survivors and fighters

‘An Evening of Hope’ honors cancer survivors and fighters

Guest speaker Hilda Dutrow shared her...


Tables in the fellowship hall at Statesboro First Baptist Church were adorned with all shades of pink, and women from across the community gathered for “An Evening of Hope.”

Almost 300 women came together for the event, sponsored by the Women’s Ministry at First Baptist, to support and encourage each other to fight cancer and be overcomers.

Youths sporting pink shirts served dinner, and fashionistas took the stage, modeling clothes provided by Madame Couture’s Consignment Boutique and Walker Pharmacy. All of the models are cancer survivors except five young ladies – two pairs of sisters walking in honor of their grandmothers and one walking for her mom.

From 18-year survivors to those currently going through treatment, the women radiated joy and strength that sparkled more than the bling they wore.

When attendees who were cancer survivors were asked to stand, most tables had at least one stand up, and applause resounded for these women of all ages, sizes, shapes, colors, careers, degrees, and denominations. Cancer, after all, knows no discrimination.

Debbie Palmer shared memories of her dear friend, Lynn Taylor, who lost her four-year battle with breast cancer.

“Lynn loved life,” Palmer said. “After her diagnosis, she sought tirelessly to get the most out of the time God had given her.

“Lynn kissed the people she loved goodnight on Aug. 7, 2008,” she continued. “The Lord answered prayers as she went peacefully in her sleep the next morning.”

Speaker Hilda Dutrow, a member of Statesboro First United Methodist Church, took the podium next and candidly spoke of her trials with leukemia.

In 1991 after routine blood work, Dutrow’s doctor called to ask her to repeat the tests. Three days later, a bone biopsy confirmed leukemia. At first, doctors thought the best procedure was to just watch and wait.

“I had this feeling of my leukemia being a leopard on a limb, twitching his tale,” she said. “I knew he was always there, and he was ferocious.

“Fifteen months later, the leopard did leap,” she added. “It was time for chemo. It wasn’t easy, but it could have been worse, and by the grace of God and healing power of Jesus Christ, I went into remission.”

In fall 2009, however, strange symptoms appeared, and Dutrow went through chemotherapy again, this time losing her hair for the first time.

“God is good; I got well,” she said. “But, my doctor told me I wouldn’t stay in remission.”

In early 2010, Dutrow endured four days of intensive chemo treatments and then received life-giving stem cells from her sister. Husband Jim and Hilda drove to Durham, N.C., frequently for follow-up appointments.

Six months later, Dutrow began to feel normal, only to relapse again.

“More chemo,” she said. “It was the third time losing my hair. And God is faithful. Jim and I and six others went to Macedonia just weeks later and taught Bible school. Some of those kids had never heard the story of Jesus.”

Dutrow ended her talk with these words: “That leopard still hangs on the limb. But I know who made the leopard, and I know who cares for me. To God be the glory.”

Besides honoring those who have fought or are fighting cancer, guests were able to make donations to the upcoming American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Debbie Hagan, First Baptist’s director of women’s ministry and a breast cancer survivor, hopes to have more community events for women in the near future.

“We want to minister to women in all walks of life,” Hagan said of her women’s ministry team. “We strive to build relationships that are focused on the Lord and meet the needs of women in our community.”

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