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Lights of Love at Phoebe Sumter

Americus, GA | November 4, 2022 – Once again, hope will shine bright this holiday season as the Phoebe Sumter Foundation will honor local cancer patients and their families with its annual Lights of Love tree lighting ceremony. Lights will be lit in the thousands in honor and memory of loved ones, and donations to the beloved holiday event will benefit oncology patients receiving treatments at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center. Angela Smith, a cancer survivor from Americus, has been named the honorary tree lighter for Phoebe Sumter.

Phoebe Sumter Tree Lighting Ceremony Date -
Main Hospital Entrance: Thursday, December 8, 2022 @ 6 p.m.

Donate now to ensure patients are
able to stay local for treatment and care.

A symbolic light of love can be purchased for a suggested $25 each. Donations can be sent to Phoebe Sumter Foundation, 126 HWY 280 W, Americus, GA 31709. For questions and more information, please contact Phoebe Sumter Foundation at 229-931-1300. Lights of Love is more than a holiday event, it is a year-round project, and your gifts are welcome at any time.

2022 Tree Lighter, Angela Smith

A cancer diagnosis is a life-altering and often traumatic experience at any time. Beginning treatment in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic made Angela Smith’s cancer journey even more challenging. “It just added another layer of concern,” she said. “I had to be ultra-careful, even more so than if I was going through chemo during a normal time.”

Due to COVID restrictions, Angela’s children and grandchildren couldn’t visit her at home to help lift her spirits, and her husband could not be at her side during surgery or her chemo treatments (though he would work remotely from his vehicle outside the clinic to remain as close as possible). Fortunately, Angela is an optimist, and she even found the bright side of those dark days. “I’m a social butterfly and don’t like to be left out of anything. I think if I’d had to stay home and watch life go on without me, it would have driven me crazy,” she said. “The world stopped, so I didn’t really miss anything.”

Angela, who currently serves as the alumni engagement specialist at Georgia Southwestern State University, has been a vibrant and vital part of the Sumter County community since she “temporarily” moved to Americus after college. “I just immersed myself in the community and found I loved it more than I ever thought I would. I adore the people. I just jumped in and got involved in organizations and made friends and connections. I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” she said.

That connection to her community is one reason she is so thankful she didn’t have to leave home for cancer care. After a routine mammogram led to a cancer diagnosis in early 2020, Dr. Kristin Tott performed a lumpectomy at Phoebe Sumter and discovered a second type of cancer outside the margins. “She’s a superstar. I’m not positive that another surgeon would have noticed what she did,” Angela said.

Angela then underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy treatments, overseen at Phoebe Sumter by Dr. Chirag Jani. Other than her breast reconstruction surgery which took place at Phoebe in Albany, Angela went through her entire cancer journey in Americus. “I can’t say enough about the treatment I got and the healthcare professionals we have right here. We’re very fortunate, especially in a town the size of Americus. It really was a comfort.”

She also found comfort and encouragement from other women who had beaten cancer. Right after Angela’s diagnosis, a friend invited her to dinner with Pink Pals, a local group of breast cancer survivors. “There’s camaraderie when you are with others who have been there. We all share that similarity, and many of the women were very supportive as I went through my journey. They called, sent cards and answered questions that others may not have been able to,” Angela said.

The kindness of others also inspired Angela to give back. One of her daughters sent a goody bag to help her cope with chemo treatments. It included a devotional, a book, snacks, water bottle, and something Angela wasn’t aware existed – a port pillow, designed to protect the area around her chemo port when wearing a seat belt. Later, Angela and the Rotary Club of Americus secured a district grant through the Rotary Foundation and worked with T31, an Americus apparel company, to make port pillows and donate them to other Phoebe cancer patients.

It’s just one way Angela continues to pay kindness forward. “I am moved to reach out to friends and even those I don’t know who are dealing with cancer – to do for them what others did for me. The cancer journey became part of my testimony, and hopefully, it’s just one chapter in a long book.”

The book of Angela’s cancer odyssey began at a time when the world was turned upside down. Thankfully, the chaos has subsided, and Angela is in great health. She continues to serve her community, help others and enjoy all the wonderful chapters her life has in store.

The other honorary tree lighters are Wright Woodall, of Albany, at Phoebe Cancer Center and Lindsay Culpepper, of Sylvester, at Phoebe Worth. They will join family, friends, and the public during special ceremonies on each respective campus.