Benefit singing to help community son

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Staff Writer

Mary Green Pouncey admits cancer is a devastating disease, but when it hits home, it is even worse.

Her grandson, Frederick Johnson, 27, of Selma, was diagnosed with cancer on February 16 of this year. Because of his lack of income and inability to work, he cannot make payments on his vehicle or on his health insurance. Without health insurance, he cannot pay his medical bills, which will be uncontrollable without income.

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To help her grandson, Pouncey helped set up a benefit singing to raise money to help Frederick survive. The singing will take place on July 30 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the First Assembly of God Church and feature the groups "New Revelation" of Pensacola, Fla., "New Vision" of Georgiana and "Spoken For Trio" from Prattville. All proceeds will go to aid Fredrick with medical and living expenses.

"He just has what the family has been giving him to try to help," Pouncey said.

Pouncey said Frederick was always a loving young man, and could have something nice to say about his grandmother at any time.

"I remember he used to come to my house and say, Nana, you're the best cook in the world,'" she said with a wistful smile. "He loved to sing when he was growing up, and he sang with his sister at different churches in the area."

Once Frederick was extremely sick with cancer, he still managed to call his grandmother, making sure she was doing better after her heart attack earlier this year.

"He'd be lying there, suffering from cancer, but he called me everyday to check on me," Pouncey said. "He was more concerned with my health than his own."

Pouncey said the first time she saw her grandson after the disease and its treatments began deteriorating his body, she almost fainted from the shock.

"He went from 185 lbs. to 125 lbs. in three weeks," she said in a shaky voice. "It took all I could do from breaking down. All I could see was a little boy with no hair and big eyes looking back at me."

Frederick has been taking chemotherapy at the University of Alabama in Birmingham every three weeks for five days since he's been diagnosed. The disease started with a lump on his knee, which spread to his shoulder. Pouncey said doctors found 26 tumors on his lungs, which have thankfully began to go into remission.

Pouncey said one of the most touching happenings dealing with her grandson's cancer has been his fiancee, Jeanine Bittner. Frederick proposed to her on Valentine's Day, two days before he was diagnosed.

"He told me he bought roses, walked up behind her and said Happy Valentine's Day' and I love you.' When she turned around, he was on his knees and asked her to marry him," she said.

Pouncey added the sweetest thing has been Bittner's devotion to him in this time of need.

"She said she would marry him in a minute whenever he was able to," she said. "She's been helping him out, and I don't know what he'd do without her."

The family has definitely been counting their blessings lately, being thankful for each day Frederick is with them and for every small improvement he makes.

"People gripe about the smallest things that don't really matter in the long run when we should really be thankful for everything we have," Pouncey said. "I'm just thankful that he never fails to tell me he loves me."