Club honors member's battle against cancer
By Becky Barclay
Published in News on February 12, 2013 1:46 PM
After being "crowned," Jane Cates Deppe wipes away tears as she thanks her friends for their support during a surprise celebration at the Senior Center on Ash Street Monday afternoon.
When Jane Cates Deppe walked into Monday's bridge game, she was overwhelmed by a sea of red. All of the Goldsboro Duplicate Bridge Club members had donned red wigs to honor Ms. Deppe, who has been fighting cancer for a year and a half -- ultimately losing her head full of red hair in the process.
When she walked into the room and the members began clapping, Ms. Deppe could not hold back her tears.
"It's a new experience for me to be speechless," she said. "When I first walked through the door, it was surreal. I had no idea it was for me. I wondered what was going on."
But when the group stood and began singing "For She's a Jolly Good Redhead," Ms. Deppe knew it was for her.
"I was gasping for breath," she said.
Up to that point, Ms. Deppe had been clueless.
"This one lied to me all morning long," she said, pointing to her friend and fellow bridge player Patrick Norris, who brought her to the game.
"He was telling me that Barbara Ann (bridge club president) had called on her cell phone and he didn't know why she didn't send out an email, but she said we should be 15 minutes late today because there was a conflict in the scheduling at the senior center."
Ms. Deppe thought that was a little strange, but dismissed it.
She's been a member of the local bridge club since 2004, and was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in August 2011.
She had surgery when she first found out she had the cancer, and has been taking chemotherapy since then and will be doing so indefinitely.
Ms. Deppe is in a clinical trial at Southeastern Medical Oncology Center.
But not even cancer has stopped her from playing bridge, a game she loves, although some days she's had to sit with her head in her hands through most of the game because she felt ill.
"It gives me a release," she said of the game. "You have to concentrate on bridge, so it gets your mind off a lot of other things.
"And I've met great people. I don't know what I would have done without this group. They've been very patient with me and considerate. They're just an amazing group of people, and I'm lucky to have them."
The bridge club donned the red wigs as a tribute to Ms. Deppe.
"Jane Cates used to have red hair," said fellow bridge player Sue Booker. "When it fell out, she bought a red wig, but then decided it wasn't what she wanted. So she bought a red and black hair wig. We knew we couldn't find red and black wigs, so we got these red wigs instead."
Ms. Booker said anyone who's had cancer as long as Ms. Deppe and who's had that much chemo is a remarkable person.
"She still comes and plays bridge and loves it," Ms. Booker said. "There have been times when she's come and not looked well, but she's played anyway."
Club president Barbara Ann Vinson said Ms. Deppe scheduled her chemo on Tuesday so she could play bridge with the club on Mondays and Thursdays.
In addition to donning red wigs, club members crowned Ms. Deppe.
"She's the queen of our hearts and we just wanted to tell her so," Mrs. Vinson said. "She's our hero. She's been struggling with so many side effects from the chemo, but she just keeps on going. We are her support group."
Shelby Bizzell echoed that sentiment, adding that the bridge club is a big family that sticks together when something happens to one of its members.
"If you're a member of this duplicate bridge club, it's like a sorority," said Ray Gunderson. "Everybody helps everybody regardless."
As Ms. Deppe took her seat at the bridge table, members sang a limerick that Mrs. Vinson wrote just for her: "There is a young lady named Jane/Who sports a tremendous red mane/She's got guts and grit/She'll never say quit/Her courage will not ever wane." Then she proclaimed Monday as Red on the Head for Jane Cates Day.