My growing list of heroes

December 5, 2012 

Once again, it is the time of year when we celebrate the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with family and friends. It is also a time to focus on just how fortunate we are to enjoy good health and our freedoms.

However, as the world goes, some are less fortunate than others and their character, resolve and faith are tested incessantly. Such is the case with my dear niece, Annette Wood Tucker, her husband, Richard, and their children, son Keith Tucker and daughter Kathy Tucker De Guire.

In light of their plight, this is the toughest column I have ever written -- it is difficult to see the computer screen through misty eyes. I wish I could be as brave as Annette and her family.

You see, Annette was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on June 25. She spent five weeks in the hospital and has been receiving chemotherapy treatments every month since August. She, Richard, Keith and her sister, Shelby Wood Arnold, have made two trips to the Emory Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta for testing and to discuss plans for her to have a bone marrow transplant just before Christmas.

Shelby is a perfect match and will be the donor -- my hero/heroine list grows almost daily, and I am extremely proud to add these two nieces. They are the daughters of my late brother, Monroe -- a hero in his on right.

They will endure two more days of testing in Atlanta in early December and will return to Atlanta to sign final paperwork and get prepared for the procedure just before Christmas. Annette will remain in the hospital for four weeks, then must remain within 30 minutes of Emory for four months before returning home. Shelby will be able to return home soon after the procedure. In light of this requirement, Annette and Richard are searching for a temporary apartment near Emory Winship Cancer Institute.

My wife, Becky, and I stopped by Richard and Annette’s home before Thanksgiving to see how she was doing. You can take my word for it that this lady is strong and is steadfast in her faith. As such, she has a positive attitude and is in good spirits.

In an e-mail received from her after to our visit, she appeared more concerned that she would be unable to plan a family reunion next spring due to still being under a doctor’s care, than she was about the things she faces in the next few months.

In her usual style, Annette is doing her Thanksgiving dinner as this column is being written and, according to Shelby, she will do an early Christmas with Richard and her children and grandchildren. Does this woman have strength, resolve and faith, or what? She is incredible.

Walton Wood lives in Kathleen. Contact him at

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