Getting cancer at a young age was something Clint Hollingsworth thought he would never have to deal with.

“Getting cancer was a big wake-up call,” Hollingsworth said. “My

perspective changed, and what I thought was important changed.”

Hollingsworth was the keynote speaker at the American Cancer Society’s

10th annual Cullman County Life Inspiration Awards Thursday night at

Cullman Church of Christ.

Fourteen survivors, care givers and health care professionals were

recognized for their extraordinary strength and courage shown during

the most difficult time in their lives.

In August of 2006, Hollingsworth was diagnosed at age 29 with

lymphoma. He had found swollen lymph nodes and at first thought it wasnothing.

“I had a lump and thought it was no big deal,” Hollingsworth said.

“Thanks to the Lord and my wife, and after constant persistence by

her, I got it checked out.”

After his surgery, his doctor gave him the dreaded news.

There was cancer.

“I knew this was serious and my life would change forever,” he said.

“This was obviously a big wake-up call.”

When he was diagnosed, his wife Leslie was six-months pregnant with

their third child, John Clinton.

“Life’s not supposed to be this way, but as you grow closer to the

Lord, you learn life’s not easy,” Hollingsworth said.

When John Clinton was born, the Hollingsworths were devastated to

learn he had congenital diaphragmatic hernia — a hole in the

diaphragm.

“There was a lot going on,” Hollingsworth said.

Hollingsworth was doing chemotherapy treaments while his son was on an

extra corporeal membrane oxygenation machine to help him breath.

While Clint continued chemotherapy treatment, the family watched over

John Clinton.

At five months old, on April 30, the Hollingsworth’s worst fears

occurred. Baby John Clinton died in the arms of his mother.

“You need to be thankful for what you have. It’s not always easy to

do, but you realize real quick there are people worse off than you,”

he said.

Hollingsworth continues to see the good in things that have happened

in the last few years of his life.

“Looking back at how things have turned out, there can be good,” he

said. “My focus truly changed. What I thought was a big deal back

then, is nothing now. My goal now is to bring a focus to cancer.”

Hollingsworth said to always remember what is truly important in life.

“Keep in mind what’s precious in life,” he said. “There’s so much

taken for granted.”

Gary Cornelius, another cancer survivor, presented the Life

Inspiration Awards and was the recipient of the second annual

Commitment to the Cause award.

“We are here to recognize people who have set the benchmark,”

Cornelius said. “Those three words — you have cancer — are devastating

words to an individual.”

Dr. Nancy Horton, Life Inspiration Award committee chairperson,

presented Cornelius with the Commitment to the Cause award.

“He gives his time, effort and money in the fight against cancer,”

she said. “Gary has been an inspiration despite his cancer.”

The Joshua Tree is the symbol used for the awards. Horton said this

tree represents victory.

“The Joshua tree is a plant that survives in the desert in the worst

possible and harshest conditions, and that’s what we feel like our

survivors do,” Horton said.

‰ Tiffany Green can be reached by e-mail at tgreen@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

 

Survivor Awards:

Nora Phillips, Patricia Gail Hooper, Sandra Glass, Betty Black, Rudy Cheatwood, Mathew Loyd and Catherine Bell

Caregiver awards:

Nell Dunlap, Jim Davis and Adam Hunter

Healthcare Professional awards:

Dr. Greg Windham, Lori McGrath and Dr. Black

 

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