LARSON: Everyone can help to make a clean sweep of cancer

Susan Larson

Susan Larson

Kudos to all of Gwinnett's Relay For Life participants who flocked to the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds last weekend. And by participants, I mean not only the runners, but also the behind-the-scenes people who volunteered their organizational and accounting skills and the hands-on people who set up, worked the concession stands, and when the rally was over, stayed to clean up.

Then there are people who clean up all year long to help those who have cancer. Connie Georges of Lilburn is one of them.

Georges started her own cleaning service, Simply Special by Connie, a few years ago. Part of what makes her service special is that she works with her customers to help them maintain their homes so they can avail themselves of as much or as little of her services as they really need. She evaluates each situation and customizes her cleaning.

If there are teenagers in the family, she suggests little things they can do to keep the costs down. If certain rooms are never used, she'll suggest not paying to have them cleaned on every visit. Georges even posts tips on her website, www.simplyspecialbyconnie.com, to help people save money on professional cleaning.

But her most special cleaning specialty is her involvement with a national organization called Cleaning for a Reason, which provides four free professional house cleanings for women with cancer.

"I do two free cleanings a month for cancer patients and sometimes I do a little more," Georges said.

When she says "a little more," she doesn't just mean another swipe with a feather duster. When she first cleaned for Abbey Blackford, a cancer patient and mother of three young children in Lawrenceville, her special touch involved Blackford's 5-year-old daughter, Mackenzie.

Blackford describes herself as a perfectionist and was hesitant to have someone else clean her house. Even though her husband handled the cooking and cleaning, the family was soon overwhelmed by the toll her chemo treatments and doctors' visits were taking on their time and energy. She finally followed a friend's suggestion and agreed to try Cleaning for a Reason. Her thinking quickly changed when Georges came to clean the first time.

"As I was cleaning, her little girl wanted to help. I had a little vacuum cleaner that I could adjust to her height. She loved it. She said, 'This is something I can do to help my mommy,'" Georges said.

"My last free cleaning was in December, but Mackenzie still vacuums for me. Now her little brother, Talen, wants to help," Blackford said. "I never would have thought of that. Connie has been such a blessing to all of us."

If you know a woman with cancer who could use this special service, visit www.cleaningforareason.com. If you want to find something special you can do to help wipe out cancer, visit www.cancer.org

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.