Phoebe Foundation announces 2018 Phoebe Sumter Lights of Love Tree

Published 3:33 pm Monday, November 26, 2018

Ceremony to be held Tuesday, Nov. 27

AMERICUS — There is no better way to celebrate the start of the holiday season than with the annual Lights of Love tree lighting ceremony, a beloved fundraiser for cancer patients and families in Southwest Georgia. Josephine Thomas, a cancer survivor from Plains, has been named the honorary tree lighter for Phoebe Sumter at the Nov. 27 ceremony to be held at the hospital’s main entrance.

Thomas was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, after her Phoebe Sumter physician noticed an abnormality on an annual mammogram. “I remember when the doctor told me, I had one tear drop out of one eye, but I just said, ‘well Lord, you’ve got to be with me.’ And I didn’t cry after that. I truly believed He would heal me and get me back on my feet,” Thomas said.

That diagnosis was just the beginning of a long and difficult journey. After undergoing a lumpectomy, Thomas began chemotherapy treatments at the Phoebe Sumter Cancer Clinic in Americus. Shortly after her first treatment, she faced another life-threatening health challenge — a ruptured colon. Then, while recuperating from the surgery, she developed congestive heart failure and both her lungs collapsed. She spent 20 days in the hospital and another two weeks in Phoebe North’s Inpatient Rehab Unit.

After recovering from that health crisis, Thomas finished her chemotherapy treatments in Americus before beginning radiation treatments at the Phoebe Cancer Center in Albany. She says they could not have gone better. “They make you feel like you’re a queen when you go in for your treatment. I tell everybody we have the best cancer center. It’s wonderful.”

The other honorary tree lighters are Steve Perrine, of Albany, at Phoebe Cancer Center and June Carter, of Sylvester, at Phoebe Worth. They will join family, friends, and the public during special ceremonies on each respective campus. Their stories of hope, along with Thomas’, can be found by visiting

Started in 1983, by the Junior Woman’s Club of Albany, Lights of Love has since raised more than $1 million for cancer services and patients at Phoebe Cancer Center. This year’s donations will benefit multiple projects:

  • a multi-year effort to restore the Light House facility that can host patients who must travel long distances to receive lengthy, multi-day treatments;
  • infusion chairs and flat screen televisions at Phoebe Worth; and
  • support for the Cancer Crisis Fund to provide emergency financial assistance for Sumter County residents.

The Lights of Love trees are special for their symbolic white lights in memory and honor of individuals. For each light purchased for a suggested $25, a card is sent to those honored or to family members. To donate, call (229) 312-GIVE or visit

The public is welcome to the Lights of Love ceremony at Phoebe Sumter at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27. For more information, contact Phoebe Foundation at 229-312-4483.