Several minutes before Donna Edler spoke, the audience that gathered at the Lou Walker Senior Center for a public hearing on a proposed biomass plant in Lithonia had repeatedly chanted "Just say no" about the project.
Throughout the evening, several people had expressed their deep concerns about, and strong opposition to, the plant.
But when Edler rose and began quetly sharing her most recent cancer battle, the room of fired-up people fell silent.
A cancer survivor, Edler revealed that the disease has spread to her spine, but she said she has the best case scenario: its on the twelfth vertebra, and treatable. She spent a week in the hospital before starting her cancer treatments on Monday (Dec. 17).
"So my new date is 12/17, 2017," she said, referring to the goal of reaching a five-year remission milestone.
Regarding the proposed plant, Edler said she was not speaking as a DeKalb County Board of Education member, but as a member of the community and someone who has fought cancer, including having a mastectomy in the past.
"As a breast cancer patient and former thyroid cancer survivor, I just don't want any exposure that I don't have to have," she said.
"I don't know the numbers, I haven't done the research, that's just me, I'm trying not to have any extra exposure," she said.
"I didn't come here to share this story," Edler said, "perhaps I was led here tonight, because South DeKalb is my community."