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Morrow principal honored with $13,000 Southern Regional gift

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Southern Regional Medical Center's Breast Cancer Center, which will be built at a satellite location on Highway 138 in Jonesboro, got a little love on Wednesday.

Organizers of the Labor of Love Tennis Tournament, presented a check for $13,427.95, to Southern Regional officials.

The check represents money raised during the tennis tournament over Labor Day weekend at Eagle's Landing Country Club in Stockbridge.

The tournament was held in honor of Tammy Burroughs, a breast cancer patient who is principal of McGarrah Elementary School in Morrow.

Burroughs was also one of the co-organizers of the tournament and is planning to hold one annually, during the Labor Day weekend.

"This is how we go on, by hearing stories like yours," said Ed Bonn, president of Southern Regional Medical Center, expressing gratitude to Burroughs and others for the financial gift.

The Breast Cancer Center is part of a 92-acre project known as Spivey Station. The project is designed to provide breast cancer services to residents of the eastern portion of Clayton County, along the county line with Henry County. The project also will include a medical office building, and an Ambulatory Surgery Center.

Construction on the project began in October 2006, and the first occupants are expected to move into the Ambulatory Surgery Center next week, said Jim Crissey, Southern Regional's vice president of facilities and support services.

The Breast Cancer Center is expected to open during the first week of April 2008.

The total cost of the 7,627 square-foot Breast Cancer Center, including construction and furnishing the facility, is pegged at approximately $3.5 million. The equipment in the center will allow Southern Regional doctors to perform mammographies, ultrasounds, bone densitometries, and stereotactic biopsies.

"It will be all digital," Crissey said. "The days of putting X-ray film up to a light are over. It's all digital now. We've always done breast surgeries for cancer, but the concentration of skills and technology is something you ordinarily wouldn't have."

While the check presentation was designed to show support for the Breast Cancer Center, all eyes and ears were on Burroughs as she interacted with attendees. The principal found out she had breast cancer when she got a phone call from her doctors on July 20 of this year, while she was on a cruise in Alaska with her husband, Nick.

She was shocked, but called the timing a "blessing," because there were two women on the ship with whom her husband had worked in Cincinnati. Both women were breast cancer survivors. "They've been a great source of inspiration," Burroughs said.

Burroughs had a double-mastectomy in mid-August, but returned to her work as the leader of her school three weeks later.

When she returned to work, she found a Christmas tree in the school's lobby. Each ornament on the tree had a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon painted on it. The tree's skirt was pink, and there was a crown on the top of the tree, in Burroughs' honor.

"[Having breast cancer] put a lot of things in perspective for me," Burroughs said. "I now live life as if each day is my last."

Cynthia Jennings, the Southern Regional Medical Center Foundation's director, said being around Burroughs was a source of inspiration. Jennings, and Glynda King, the chairperson of the foundation's board of trustees, said Burroughs, who had no family history of breast cancer, is an example that the disease can affect anyone.

"People need to stop thinking it's a disease that only old women can get," King said. "Every woman is at risk, regardless of age. Even men can get breast cancer," she added.

"I love the fact that she is so positive and spiritual through all of this," Jennings said. "She's beautiful, a real Godsend. You don't feel sorry for her. She's so powerful, and empowering to everyone around her. She handles this so gracefully. She's glamorous."