We’re Still Here! 2021 – Second Runner-up

Peggye Thornburg, Athens, Georgia

I contracted polio at 4 months of age – 14 months before the vaccine was available. I was treated at Breckenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas. I was reported to be the youngest child to survive polio that month. I was treated with Sister Kenny hot packs. Luckily, polio didn’t affect my lungs, and I grew up singing in the schools I attended over the year.

Fast forward to the Covid epidemic, which put a stop to singing for a while. After a short hiatus, I went back to singing again through Zoom with my four groups here in Athens, Georgia – Athens Choral Society, Athens Symphony Chorus, Meridian Women Chorus, and Chapelwood Choir. Those days were very enriching during the pandemic year. It was like vocal aerobics.


We videotaped the sessions for the community at large, who used to hear us perform quarterly at Hodgson Hall on the campus of University of Georgia. Many let us know how enriching these Zoom performances became for them during the year. Singing is excellent for the lungs. Endorphins go through the body, which leads to strengthening the whole body when done every day.

In August of 2015, I was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. With this came months of weight loss because my peritoneal area prevented me from eating. After chemo and a grueling de-bulking surgery to remove some cancer, I had gotten down to 125 lbs.

Recently, after years of chemo, CTS and blood draws, I found I had gained weight and had to get the weight off. I started a low-carb, high-protein diet with lots of roasted and sautéed veggies. I lost 10 lbs. I’m still working on this. It is a lifetime struggle. Cutting out white sugar was essential for me. If I eat rice with veggies, I use brown rice. It can be boring but must be done.

I use a scooter now after years of walking with crutches, though I still use crutches in my home. I can now get out of a chair easier. Weight is my enemy; I must not let it get the upper hand. Life is easier now.