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Friday, April 26, 2013

"Beating the odds"

Akennia Ellis posing for SPSU team pictures.

           MARIETTA- Monday through Friday at 1:30pm and 3:00pm you will find her sitting in front of the television watching soap operas. During this time, her eyes are glued to the screen and the only time she's free is during the commercial breaks. In her spare time she competes in the online Words with Friends and poses in pictures for Instagram. She always has a great story to tell and a valuable lesson to teach. Although she walks with a slight limp, her presence still lights up every room. Akennia Ellis, 24, is a former athlete from Southern Polytechnic State University who recovered from cancer.
            Originally from Miami, Fla, Akennia moved to Marietta, Ga to start her college career in August of 2007. She had two successful years in basketball and in the accounting program before her emotional journey began. Akennia was playing on the court when she discovered pains in her right leg. First, she visited the school trainer for help, and then was told that it was probably a case of tendinitis. After this visit, she experienced another injury to the same leg. Oddly, a big knot grew on her right leg, but it did not heal. Akennia was concerned, so she decided to visit a doctor for further information. The doctor performed an X-ray on the right leg and the results were not what she wanted to hear.   
            Akennia was diagnosed with ostersarcoma of the right femur. Ostersarcoma, also called osteogenic sarcoma, is a malignant cancer that starts in the bones. It’s not a common type of cancer, but it’s a cancer that usually develops in teenagers. The cause of the cancer is unknown and it usually occurs in large bones and in the area of bone with the fastest growing rate. Some symptoms of osteosarcoma include: bone pain, limitation of motion, bone fracture, limping (if tumor is in leg), pain when lifting (if tumor is in arm), and tenderness, swelling, and redness at the site of the tumor.
            Treatment usually starts after a biopsy of the tumor is performed.  Before any major surgeries take place, chemotherapy is given to the patient. Then surgery is a follow up procedure used to remove any remaining tumor. Akennia began her treatment for ostersarcoma two months after her diagnosis. Initially, her insurance would not cover the medical expenses because she was Florida resident in Georgia seeking extensive medical care. After a few debates, the insurance covered the majority of the expenses. The treatment, itself, took four months for Akennia to complete.
            During the treatment, Akennia went through four surgeries, a metal rod implant, IV therapy, blood transfusions, a series of medications, a feeding tube, and she experienced a lot of physical changes.
            “The challenging part about being sick was the side effects,” Akennia said.
Some of the physical changes included: loss of hair, excessive skin peeling, darker skin complexion, dry skin, weight loss, and the loss of eyebrows. Besides the physical changes, Akennia was unable to play basketball with her teammates.
             “It might sound crazy, but I wasn’t even thinking about life at the time. I was really thinking about me not being able to play basketball anymore,” Akennia said.
            Once Akennia started undergoing treatment, she realized that this was really her life. The medications took a lot out of her and it was very tough experience to go through. There were times when she wanted to give up, but the support of her family, friends, and teammates kept her going. After four long months, Akennia was told that the cancer was gone. Although she was cancer free, Akennia was told that she would not be able to play basketball again. 

Southern Polytechnic State University Women's Basketball team wearing all pink for cancer awareness.
             Recovering from cancer was a huge milestone for Akennia and her battle inspired many people. Alex Sanabria, a former teammate and friend of 10 years, views Akennia like a sister. They use to play high school basketball together and have weekend sleepovers at each other’s houses.  After Sanabria found out Akennia was diagnosed with cancer, she was lost for words.
            “I mean that was shocking. Your best friend is going through something so severe. It hurt,” said Sanabria.
While Akennia struggled through treatment, Sanabria had to cope with her best friend living with cancer. The person she knew for 10 years had to battle to stay alive.
            “I can only imagine how hard it was for her and just seeing her in pain and you can’t do anything, that makes it even worse,” said Sanabria.      
             Sabrina McCants, a close friend and former roommate, believes Akennia’s journey is a miracle. McCants used to visit Akennia while she was in the hospital. Sometimes she would bring Akennia little gifts and treats to brighten her day or to put a smile on her face.
            “She didn’t want people to see her in the hospital, but we wanted to make her feel loved,” said McCants.
Any person struggling through cancer has the weight of the world on their shoulders. Akennia went through physical, mental, and emotional changes.
            “She changed for the better. Anyone that is able to witness a miracle can only go up from there. It was a positive experience, not throughout, but of course afterwards,” said McCants.   
McCants feels that Akennia is a strong, independent, and genuine individual. Her story is a gift from God and she believes that she is a walking survivor.
              Akennia’s battle through cancer had a major impact on my life as well. I had the opportunity to know her before her diagnosis, so I saw how the cancer unfolded. I did not have any knowledge about this type of cancer, but Akennia helped fill in the blanks. She explained the medical treatments, medication, and chemotherapy process. As a result, I was able to learn more about osteosarcoma and how to be more proactive with my health. Akennia was very open and inspirational about her experiences, and she taught some valuable lessons along the way. Since her recovery, our relationship has become even stronger and our bond is unbreakable. 

A slice of strawberry cheesecake for Akennia's 24th Birthday.
             Recently, Akennia became a member of the Young Adult Cancer Survivors program at the Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta, Ga. It’s a support group that is available to individuals who have or had cancer. Members of YACS gather monthly for dinner, drinks, trivia, and to hang out.  It’s an opportunity for young women and men to meet new friends and learn about their personal experiences. Akennia hopes to learn more about cancer and some of the preventions, so she can live a healthier life in the future.    
             To conclude, many people battle with cancer, but some do not get the chance to see recovery. In many cases, the victims are either too late or they have fought as long as they could. Being proactive about your health is the best solution.“It’s better to know, than not to know. More people live, than die. It’s important to keep your health first. Stop stressing about the simple things and appreciate your life,” said Akennia.

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Is your grocery store going green?"


KENNESAW- The ongoing movement today is “Going Green.” People are trying to recycle, preserve, and use more eco-friendly products. Although there is no national law that mandates recycling, some states require that citizens follow certain requirements. 12 out of 50 states have passed recycling laws and campaigns for their residents. However, Georgia does not have a Bottle Bill Law, an E-Waste Law, or any current campaigns involving recycling. Since there are no regulations or laws put in place, the residents of Georgia are responsible for maintaining a “green” society on their own.

How do the residents of Georgia maintain a "peachy state?" There are numerous ways to help create a green society. First, people can purchase recycling bins for their waste material, use paper products over plastic, regulate water usage, dispose electronics properly, monitor gas usage, and purchase eco-friendly products. Once their homes are equipped with these items, they're off to creating a green society. Next, the public has to play their part in the movement. People lead by example, so if public is implementing going green, then the society will most likely follow. The best place to start with is our local grocery stores. To list, Walmart, Publix, and Kroger are three of the main grocery stores in the Kennesaw area. Each store works to provide products and ways to create a greener society.

Grocery Stores




Walmart's motto is "Save money. Live better." They strive to make a difference by working on issues like preserving the environment, providing affordable food, and promoting health. Walmart emphasizes three main goals, which include: selling products that sustain people and the environment, creating zero waste, and supplying 100 percent renewable waste. They partner and work with markets, government and non- government organizations, suppliers, and farmers to reduce food waste, optimize production, and provide the best agriculture products. Walmart promotes zero waste by removing the dumpsters behind their stores and by not using landfills for their throwaways. 


They are committed to providing the healthiest and most affordable food to the people as well. Their food packaging follows the "3R's": reduce, reuse, and recycle. One of their main missions is fighting hunger in the United States. The Walmart Foundation has donated over 6.8 million to hunger relief and healthy eating programs. Their efforts have helped fight hunger and have earned them recognition.

Customer's Thoughts

Nick Rickett has been a valued customer at Walmart for over 12 years. He enjoys shopping at Walmart for various reasons.

Rickett said, “They have very good deals, their produce is usually very fresh, and they have everything there.”

To maintain a green society, Rickett uses personal cloth grocery bags, refrains from using plastic water bottles, and tries to be more efficient with the products he uses. He prefers to shop at Walmart mainly because of the prices.

Rickett said, “Their prices usually match up or are lesser than their competitors and that is usually the bottom line for me.”

Overall, he feels that Walmart is better choice if you’re looking for bargains and great produce.




Publix created Get Into the Green Routine in 2001. The program was started to educate and emphasize energy conservation. Get Into the Green Routine encourages people to have better environmental habits in the home and in the workplace. The program has impacted Publix greatly by reducing the companywide electricity usage, minimizing water usage, decreasing fuel use, offering eco-friendly products, recycling store generated material, and working with suppliers to provide better packaging options. Publix believes if people work hard to protect the environment at home and at work, then they can make a difference.


Since the customers were asking for more environmentally friendly products, Publix developed the GreenWise Market. The GreenWise Market offers organic, all-natural, and gluten free products to their customers. If shoppers are looking for a healthier lifestyle, then the GreenWise Market is the place to visit. Some of their products include: 100 percent recycled paper goods, vitamins and supplements, pet products, household cleaning materials, organics meats and vegetables.

Customer's Thoughts

Kourtney Wright has been a valued customer at Publix for almost nine years. She has shopped at both Publix and the GreenWise Market. Wright primarily shops at Publix because the store is clean, the environment is friendly, and she loves the deli section. She contributes to the going green movement by recycling her grocery bags and encouraging others to support the cause.

Wright said, “I recycle bags, but to be honest, I have not been as involved as I would like to be. I’ve been searching for ways to be more active and to make a difference.”

She chooses to shop at Publix because other grocery stores are not as organized and they don’t provide a quick shopping experience.Wright has never had a bad experience at Publix because the atmosphere and the employees are always pleasant.

Wright said, “Most people think Publix is a little bit more expensive, but the time that you’re wasting at other stores could be less at Publix.”

FYI: GreenWise Market


Since 2001, Kroger has been working toward reducing its energy consumption. They have remodeled their stores with the latest technology and energy efficiency. Their new stores consume 30 percent less energy, reduce operating cost, and use LED lighting for coolers and freezers. Kroger has equipped their stores with motion sensors, skylights, and control systems. The motion sensors turn lights on when a customer approaches an aisle and turns them off when an aisle is empty. The new skylights provide daylight to enhance the customer’s shopping experience and help with energy consumption as well. Each store is equipped with control systems that monitor energy usage in the freezers, refrigerators, heating and cooling units, and the lighting systems.


Besides energy consumption, Kroger has started their own brands to satisfy their customer’s needs and opinions. Simple Truth is an organic brand that is accredited by the USDA. It’s free from 101 artificial additives, preservatives, and ingredients. These products have easy-to-read labels and ingredients lists, which helps educate customers about what their diets and lifestyles. Next, the Nature’s Market is a new department within Kroger that offers natural and organic foods, nutritional supplements, body care products, and eco-friendly household products. This section of the grocery store is continuously growing and it carries over 700 gluten free products. Along with the new brands, Kroger is also working with local farmers and suppliers to provide the best produce. One of Kroger’s most popular products is the fresh milk that is delivered from 20 different dairies throughout the United States.

Customer's Thoughts

Keith Niles has been a valued customer at Kroger for 20 years. He has been shopping at Kroger since he could remember. Niles chooses to shop at Kroger over other grocery stores because of the location and the convenience. When shopping, he prefers to use plastic over clothes grocery bags because their portable bags that can be recycled and reused for various purposes.

Niles said, “Growing up I was taught to recycle. My grandmother always taught me about setting my thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summertime, and that saves a lot of energy and a lot of money. I like saving money. Also, I don’t drink bottled water, I use the filter.”

Niles efforts to save energy have not only saved him money, but it has also had a positive impact on the environment.

Looking Forward

There are numerous ways to go green in the home, in the work place, and in your local grocery stores. Residents of Georgia have maintained a “peachy state” by promoting the going green movement in their everyday lives. More and more people are trying to recycle, reuse, and reduce to protect their environment. There are plenty of grocery stores to shop at, but every store brings something different to the table. If you want to find the best eco-friendly grocery store, visit the store’s location or the website for more information. GO GREEN!