A benefit BBQ lunch was held on Thursday, May 19 to raise funds for Stephanie Thigpen, a Madison local who has been waging an ongoing war against brain cancer since 2011; on Aug. 27, 2015, Thigpen and her family received the news that her cancer (Glioblastoma multiforme / fourth stage) had returned. Soon after that discovery, Thigpen underwent surgery to remove the five-centimeter tumor, which put her back on a chemo treatment called Temodar.
Despite having had great success with Temodar back in 2011, Thigpen and her husband, Bryant Thigpen, were informed on Nov. 23, 2015 that the chemo didn’t appear to be working and a new tumor had been found.
In an attempt to help Thigpen’s body rally against this new, roughly five-centimeter tumor, doctors changed her chemo treatments to Avastin.
Despite these measures, on Feb. 10 of this year, the Thigpens returned to the hospital in Gainesville to have a new MRI taken, only to learn that while the tumor had not grown, neither had it shrunk; so another form of chemotherapy was added to her treatment plan in addition to the Avastin and Novocure that she was already on.
Since February, the Thigpens have learned that none of the treatments have been working and another tumor has been located; this one is rapidly growing and already surpassing the last two in size.
While the community cannot provide a miraculous cure for Thigpen, Madison County has rallied together and fought hard for Stephanie Thigpen’s sake.
During the Thursday, May 19 BBQ fundraiser, the plan was to start at 11 a.m. and continue serving meals until the food ran out – and the meals sold out fast.
From start to finish, supporters poured in to buy meals and raffle tickets in order to help the Thigpen family through this tough time.
“Team Stephanie” is a growing group that strives to provide assistance wherever they can, from various benefit lunches and raffles to the blue and gray “Pray for Stephanie” signs that are scattered in the lawns of homes and businesses throughout Madison County.
The benefit lunch was no exception, as Bryant Thigpen roughly estimates that 600 meals were sold that day.
“My family and I are so grateful to everyone who reached out to help us during this time,” said Bryant Thigpen. “The funds, the gifts and, especially, the prayers have not gone unnoticed.”
For the fundraiser, everything was donated, with various members of the Madison County community coming together to provide what they could.
Even some churches and businesses got involved, as the Thigpen family recognized AOC Electric, Sirmans Baptist Church, Midway Baptist Church amongst others as well a large gathering of friends and family.
Bryant Thigpen expressed his gratitude for all the encouragement and assistance that has been given to him and Stephanie through this difficult time of their lives and continues to ask that they remain in the prayers of the community; Stephanie’s fight is far from over.
Brynlee Thigpen, age two, sits on a bench at Four Freedoms Park during the fundraiser for her mother, Stephanie Thigpen. Brynlee is wearing one of the “Team Stephanie” shirts that various other team members wore during the event in support of Stephanie and her family.
During the lunchtime event, all hands on deck were required as supporters flooded the gazebo at Four Freedoms Park during the BBQ lunch fundraiser. Pictured from left to right, filling bags with meals, are: David Cooper, Ned Walker, Lucille Kirkland (Stephanie Thigpen’s aunt) and Ashley Hutchinson.