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Thursday, April 3, 2008

More triumph than tragedy: Voluntarism by a breast cancer patient

When Georgie Mae Taylor died at age 63 on March 2, the event was more a triumph than tragedy.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago, her prognosis was grim: just a month or so to live.

"I decided to keep on trucking, keep on living," she told a reporter from The Eastern Shore News last fall.

"I had too much to live for."

After giving away much of her jewelry and clothing, Georgie did an about-face and opted for an aggressive course to battle her affliction.

The treatment included more than 300 chemotherapy sessions. She researched her disease and all its treatments.

At that point, she became a patient advocate, her husband, Sam, said.

She also continued the fast-lane pace she enjoyed as an antique collector, activist in Baptist and Methodist church groups, and garden clubber. She was also famous for her wedding bouquets.

"She always stayed busy," Jo Sue Parker, her sister, said.

During her extra lease on life, eight grandchildren were born.

She became a major force in the Shore's Relay for Life, an annual American Cancer Society fundraiser, which received $200,000 last September. She organized a breast cancer support group that continues to grow and encompass other forms of cancer. She volunteered to operate a booth for the local Food Bank.

"The one word to describe her," Sam said, "is inspiration. Anyone down in the dumps over a cancer diagnosis could phone Georgie 24 hours a day. She popped out of bed early in the morning to talk to them because they were scared," he said

Laura Vaughan, director of the Barrier Islands Center in Machipongo, described Georgie as "a miracle amongst us."

"As a cancer survivor myself, she took the fear out of it for me," Laura said.

"She lived such a full life with cancer. All the good attributes of the Eastern Shore came through in her."

During her final week, Laura said, Georgie attended the Barrier Island oyster roast fundraiser and showed up at her garden club meeting.

Advice: Be like Georgie.

Read a story of a plucky breast cancer survivor.

Thanks to Brown Carpenter for the source story in HamptonRoads.com of April 1.

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