Cancer Association honors Petree with candlelight program

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By Jennifer Caldwell

Cancer and hope are not synonymous. But throw in a little faith and the results are astounding.

The impact of faith was demonstrated through the life and death of one of the Campbell County Cancer Association’s beloved volunteers, and last Friday night the group took the opportunity to honor his memory.

Glenn Petree, the long time director of the Campbell County Baptist Association, wore many hats in the community; not the least of which was his role as service director for the Campbell County Cancer Association’s operation.

Despite losing Petree to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in December 2008 the Cancer association and community is still remembering Petree’s faith in his life and death.

“Glen was an inspiration to us all,” Judy Rice, Campbell County Cancer Association chairperson said as she opened the candlelight program honoring not only the work of Petree but also the memory those who have succumbed to Cancer as well as those fighting for their lives.

“Glen was a mighty fine fellow that I’m glad passed through my life,” Clarence Lowe, Campbell County Cancer Association treasurer, said of Petree.

Ronnie Arnold, Cedar Hill Baptist Church pastor, also took a moment to reflect on Petree’s approach to not only his work with the Cancer association but life as well.

“Glen had a lifestyle of ministry. Just ask (his wife) Jane about it,” Arnold recalled. “The thing I remember and miss about Glen is he didn’t have all of the answers, but he knew where to go to get them.”

Petree’s wife Jane and son Luke looked on with emotion and pride as they listened to the fond remembrances from his friends and colleagues.

“I consider it a privilege for him to be recognized,” Jane Petree said searching for words to describe what the evening meant to her.

“Dad loved the people of Campbell County. He did a lot to stay out of the spotlight so I think it is nice to see him remembered in this way,” Luke Petree added.

 During the evening Rice also took to the opportunity to share with the group gathered in the corner of LaFollette City Park how far the Cancer association had come in recent years.

“At one point we were down to about $400 in our checking account and Clarence (Lowe) and I were feeling pretty low,” Rice recalled.

According to Rice, it was around that time David Chapman came on board and suggested the group hold a telethon. Acting on that suggestion four years ago the cancer association raised $30,000 in its first annual telethon.

“We knew this was a sign that we were doing what God wanted us to do,” Rice said of the first telethon’s success.

The local Cancer association was founded 24 years ago by Tom and Billie Leach, who first saw the need for such an organization following Tom’s diagnosis of bladder cancer in 1984.

Billie Leach, also a survivor, said she and her husband first became involved with an organization in Knoxville, but were burdened for the people suffering with cancer in their own community.

“We just decided we’d rather see the money we worked to raise stay here in Campbell County,” Billie Leach said of the decision to form the Campbell County Cancer Association.

With no support from outside agencies, 97 percent of the money generated by the local cancer organization goes directly to aid Campbell County citizens battling Cancer.

For LaFollette resident Joetta Boshears and her family, money and services provided by the Campbell County Cancer Association have been priceless.

“They (the cancer association) have meant everything to me,” Boshears said through tears of gratitude.

Without insurance at the time of her diagnosis, Boshears said she was not sure what she would have done without the support of the local organization.

“They provided gas money for my sister to drive me to all of my appointments,” Boshears said of the six weeks of daily radiation and one year of weekly chemo she has undergone.

The Campbell County Cancer Association will host its annual telethon this Saturday on public access channel 12 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Donations may be made at the time of the telethon or sent to the Campbell County Cancer Association at 124 Woodvine Street, Jacksboro. For more information, call 562-2246.