On a day when brochures touting cancer-treatment facilities at the Medical College of Georgia were scattered on the breakfast tables, members of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce heard a sobering prognosis for a former chamber staff member fighting the disease.
MCG President Daniel Rahn was the featured speaker for the chamber's bimonthly Not Just Coffee session Tuesday morning at the meeting room of the Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Evans. Rahn talked about the impact of MCG on the community and said hospital officials are discussing options for expansion to Columbia County.
But it was brief comments from Kevin Hackett, the husband of former chamber office manager and special-projects coordinator Stephanie Hackett, that captured the participants' attention.
Mr. Hackett delivered the news that his wife is under hospice care after suffering a Thanksgiving Day setback.
"She's kind of been in a touch-and-go situation," Hackett said.
His wife was diagnosed with colon cancer in January and underwent extensive surgery and chemotherapy, Hackett said. Six months later, doctors learned the cancer had spread to her liver, and by mid-October the disease had worsened despite further treatments.
She was hospitalized Thanksgiving Day, and is now at home under hospice care. However, "the girl still talks about what she can do for others," Mr. Hackett said.
Chamber members have set up a fund to help the family with medical and living expenses, with donations accepted at the Furys Ferry Road Regions Bank.
Chamber Executive Director Gordon Renshaw said some members also are working on a plan for their individual businesses to provide free or reduced-cost services to the family.
"A lot of businesses have stepped forward in their generosity," Renshaw said.
Tuesday's session also provided a send-off for outgoing chamber board Chairman Wayne Bridges, whose term ends Dec. 31.
"It was a transition year for us," Bridges said, noting the chamber's effort to increase its membership at a time when the organization has gained increased autonomy from the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. "We set out and didn't know what to expect, but we accomplished a lot," with some 650 businesses now listed as members of the chamber.
Bridges' successor as chamber chairman is Tim McGill, an official from Georgia Power Co. and member of the Columbia County Development Authority.
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