Henrietta Singletary, philanthropist and cancer survivor, will be the honoree at “A Night for Hope” on Feb. 1 at the Hilton Garden Inn. (Submitted photo)
ALBANY — Henrietta Singletary as well as her husband had a reputation for working tirelessly on countless community causes and initiatives throughout the state, with a particular devotion to health care endeavors — including cancer.
In an odd twist of destiny, the University of Georgia graduate and mother of three sons ended up learning the impact of such an illness firsthand when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008.
“When I started becoming involved in the (state) Cancer Coalition, I had never had cancer,” she said. It was not until she was diagnosed, she said, that she “understood its rampant effect. … I had full confidence I would get well, and I did.”
After the tumor was removed, she underwent chemotherapy and radiation. She is through with her follow-up treatments, but still pays a visit to the doctor every six months. Like many others in that situation, she was able to build a support system to lean on — and has since been able to focus more on the positive rather than dwell on the negative.
“I look back on it and I don’t remember the bad parts,” Singletary said. “I was (put on a) path and I went on the course of correcting it … I was surprised, but not frightened … I just had to deal with it.”
Her late husband, Marvin Singletary, served on the inaugural board of directors for the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia. She was selected to serve on the inaugural board of directors for the former Georgia Cancer Coalition, and throughout her personal battle with cancer, she was known to demonstrate her trademark grace and good humor, inspiring other patients who also were undergoing treatment — and she remains a positive role model for approaching a cancer diagnosis and survivorship with strength and poise.
During her battle, she became impressed by how some of the other patients were dealing with their illness with such strength — some of whom were sicker than she was.
“I think they helped me more than I helped them,” she said. “… I do worry about all those people I knew, but it feels good see so so many success stories.”
Singletary’s other philanthropic and personal accomplishments include the former chair the Phoebe Foundation Board of Directors, leading the foundation in a number of major capital campaigns such as the $7 million construction of Willson Hospice House. She was named the tree lighter for the Lights of Love ceremony in 2008, and she serves on the advisory board of directors for SunTrust Bank South Georgia and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, is an emeritus trustee for the UGA Foundation as well as a member of the institution’s press advisory council and the State Botanical Garden Board of Advisors.
She is also a sustainer with the Charity League of Albany and member of Porterfield United Methodist Church.
Even during her cancer battle, she remained involved in most of her commitments. In a recent interview, she was able to recall when the treatments eventually caused her hair to fall out.
“I was in a meeting when it lifted, and by the time I got home, it was gone,” Singletary said. “I wore a wig, but I stopped. It has since grown back.”
Singletary will be the honoree at “A Night for Hope” on Feb. 1 at the Hilton Garden Inn. Formerly known as the HOPE Ball, the event is meant to bring awareness to the importance of cancer screening and prevention as well as raise money for the cause.
“It is humbling to see these ladies and the work they do year after year,” the honoree said. “When (Cancer Coalition of South Georgia CEO) Diane (Fletcher) called me (to inform me of the selection), I had to think about it.”
Fletcher said that Singletary’s name was at the top of the list when the planning committee was considering who they wanted to honor.
“She was so worried about doing a good job,” Fletcher said of her conversation with Singletary about the selection. “She wanted to make sure she did a good job for us.”
Aside from enlightment on the perils a cancer patient can go through, Singletary said there was something else she took from her experience with breast cancer.
“It taught me to appreciate good health and good people,” she said. “I think it taught me that people are trying … I hope I learned to be more observant and caring.”
While the goal is to help bring the Cancer Coalition’s mission of cancer awareness and prevention into the limelight, there is also a monetary goal in mind.
“We are selling tickets, and still looking for sponsors (for tables in honor or memory of someone), and there are auction items still being sought,” Fletcher said. “The hope is that, each year, at least $50,000 is raised — and sometimes $80,000 (is raised). Our hope is to be able to reach that.
“I think we can make is widely successful.”
Singletary said her ultimate wish for the event, as the honoree and a survivor, is that it provides education.
“My hope is that it raises awareness (of) detection, screening, prevention, the seriousness of informing people and knowledge to bring a healthy community,” she said. “… People give because they want people to be healthy. They know it’s meaningful, and that people need good health.”
Tickets for “A Night for Hope” are $100, while sponsorships are available at various levels: Gold, $3,500; Silver, $2,500; Bronze, $1,000; Hope, $500. Tables with seating for eight are available for $1,000. General questions about the event, sponsorship and auction donations may be directed to Cancer Coalition Development Manager Melissa Goodin at (229) 312-1706 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are available by calling the coalition at (229) 312-1700 or visiting www.sgacancer.org.