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Breast cancer survivor sought help from higher power after discovering disease

Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 8:30 PM
Last updated 9:39 PM
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After learning she had breast cancer in 1996, Connie Clifford called friends and family and asked to be put on as many prayer lists as possible.

Connie Clifford learned she had breast cancer in 1996 and colon cancer in 2008. Both her brother and uncle had breast cancer.   SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Connie Clifford learned she had breast cancer in 1996 and colon cancer in 2008. Both her brother and uncle had breast cancer.

“I must be on every prayer list in Au­gusta and the surrounding areas,” Clif­ford said. “I think that worked.”

She found the lump during a routine self-exam and chose to have a mastectomy once she learned it was cancerous.

“I think I was in shock of course, as most people are,” she said. “I just realized, well, I was going to have to go through it. I don’t think it really sunk in until we started the chemo.”

Clifford’s brother and uncle both had breast cancer, so for 10 years, her oncologist pushed her to have the gene test done.

When she finally did, she learned she has the BRCA2 gene. In 2008, she had her remaining breast removed and three months later learned she had colon cancer.

Also in 2008, she had a gall bladder removed, and her mother died.

“I was glad to see the end of ’08,” she said.

Her faith, a good support system and a sense of humor helped her through it all.

“A funny story,” she said. “When I was doing chemotherapy, I lost my hair. My first day back at school – I taught at Glenn Hills High School – I was wearing a wig. It was very windy that day, and the wig blew off my head in the parking lot. I was searching under cars for my wig. There was one student out there. He was struck dumb!”

UPCOMING EVENTS

SATURDAY

Pink Ribbon Event: Augusta Harley-Davidson, 4200 Belair Frontage Road; 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; food, vendors, live music, raffles, tattoo contest; proceeds benefit University Breast Health Center; (706) 651-0444

Crossfit Augusta presents Big or Small Save them All: 10 a.m.; 4408 Evans to Locks Road; teams of two or individuals completing “Helen” then “Grace”; food, drinks; all proceeds benefit The Lydia Project; (706) 250-1189; www.crossfitaugusta.com

Breast Cancer Awareness Dinner: 7 p.m.; Mann Memorial United Methodist Annex Building, 2705 Milledgeville Road; Dr. Matthew Pugliese, speaker; dinner, fellowship and support, entertainment, auction, door prizes; $25 donation; call in advance (no tickets at the door); (706) 691-9767

ABOUT CONNIE CLIFFORD

AGE: 68

HOMETOWN: Augusta

FAMILY: Partner, Faye Ruffin; brothers Allen Clifford and Kenny Clifford; sister Kathy Mackie

OCCUPATION: Retired teacher for the Richmond County Board of Education

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: 1996 – mastectomy and chemotherapy

HER ADVICE: “Put yourself on as many prayer lists as you can. Keep a sense of humor no matter how bad it gets. Rely on those close to you to help you through it.”


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