You’re my Newnan ….
Sometimes there are hidden places in this world that you will never get to encounter, but because of cancer, our journey led us straight to a little slice of Heaven on Earth. Those are the words my mother used often as she fought each day through the help of her community at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Newnan. Her community at the center was surrounded by love and joy where a neck never goes unhugged and strangers are lifted up in prayer.
Community. I don’t say that lightly as it wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned the importance of what a community can do and how Newnan is no different than my hometown community of DeRidder, Louisiana. For years, we travelled to this quaint town as my mother underwent chemotherapy every four weeks. So you could imagine every thought was the unknown and always fearing if time is running out or doctors not being able to trick cancer one more time.
But mostly, as an only child, a caretaker to my mother, and the strength my dad needs, one thought was on constant repeat in my mind, “will this be our last time as a family to visit Newnan, Georgia?”
I greatly admire what this community has brought to my family in a time of need. It’s been a way to escape when you just want to give up from battling the reality of life. When my mother didn’t have a tear left to cry from cancer, when my dad was frustrated with no answers to give, and when I was dying inside from a broken heart, the town of Newnan is where we broke free.
Our first adventure was making a ton of memories at Ashley Park. When my mother was recovering from an eight hour surgery, we couldn’t wait until she was up and running to show her the neat shops we found. Sometimes my dad and I would sneak over to the Great American Cookie Co. while she received chemo. I can promise many cookies have been snuck in the trunk of our rental car. The memories go beyond finding a Catholic Church for Mass on Sundays, the Christmas decorations at Ashley Park, or discovering shops in downtown Newnan and debating which barbecue place is better for pulled pork sandwiches. It’s the fact that the town of Newnan brought us closer together as a family miles away from home during the absolute worst times of our lives. When you can literally get choked up over a community, that’s when you know it’s a little slice of heaven on earth made especially for you to experience. I hope to allow my son to experience how this community has filled our hearts. It’s a tradition and spirit I always want to keep alive.
In fact, I’m so fascinated by the love my parents and I have shared for Newnan that I couldn’t resist bringing a slice of this town back home with me in a big way. So, I purchased a labradoodle puppy and named him Newnan. Now, when people ask his name, I tell them “Newnan” and a conversation ensues. Being able to talk about and share Newnan, both city and the doodle, is one of the best things that’s come out of an often difficult cancer journey.
Kacie Carlson and her mom, Pamela Hennigan, share an affectionate moment following cancer treatment in Newnan. Hennigan died Nov. 29 with her daughter by her side.