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      Hannibal hospice house to honor Pinkie Pals founder

      Sarah Roth, co-founder of Pinkie Pals breast cancer support group. Sarah died in November, 2011.
      In her lifetime, Sarah Roth inspired so many people with her smile, courage and determination. After her death, she's still helping people by providing them with a place to die.

      Sarah lost her 13-year battle with breast cancer in November. Sarah did not want to die at home. She wanted her home to be a place of warm memories, not remembered as the place where she passed away. Her only option was the hospital, where she was surrounded by family, but in a clinical setting.

      Soon, the terminally ill in the Hannibal area will have a place to live out their final days. Sarah's Place, named in honor of Sarah Roth, will open later this year as a hospice house.

      â??I envision it being this wonderful, end-of-life setting,â?? said Pastor Steve Barker of Hannibal's First Christian Church. His congregation is providing the home, free of charge, to anyone who needs it.

      Sarah was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31. When she was sick, she measured her years by setting goals. She accomplished everything she set out to doâ??she watched her children graduate, she went to her daughter's wedding, she held her first grandchild. She also helped other people living with breast cancer.

      When her cancer returned a second time and settled in her bones, Sarah had to sell her share of her business. She said in a speech shortly before she died that she had felt like she had lost herself and was no longer the strong and independent adult she wanted to be. She was searching for a purpose. That's when she co-founded a breast cancer support group called Pinkie Pals .

      â??What started out as a support group became so much more,â?? Sarah said in her speech. â??I started to realize two things: God had shown me my purpose in life and how having breast cancer has shown me my blessings in life.â?? Sarah died a few months after sharing her story. She was 44 years old.

      â??She inspired other people. She took everyone along on her faith journey,â?? Sarah's sister-in-law Tammy Heimer told me. â??Cancer caused her death, but it never took her life. She was so thankful.â??

      Heimer helped organize a fund raiser for Sarah's Place. The recent auction brought in $10,500. A donation from a parish family with ties to Sarah Roth provided another $50,000 for the home's renovation and upkeep. Pastor Barker is amazed by how it all came together so quickly and smoothly; the plan falling in place even as Sarah lay dying. â??I'm overwhelmed when the Lord gives you a project and it's so obvious the purpose is spiritually driven by God.â??