Longtime McComb Market manager Gene Moak has returned to his position in the store after being told he was cancer-free last October.
“It was a great moment,” Moak said about being told he was cancer-free. “It’ll make you enthused about life again.”
Moak, 62, has managed the store since its opening in 2005. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer on Feb. 4, 2019.
Since his diagnosis, he went through eight weeks of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, finished physical therapy and now goes to the doctor every three months for a check-up.
“It wasn’t really scary because I was at a good hospital, and they took care of me — some trying times, but it wasn’t anything scary,” Moak said.“Some times you take your life for granted, and after going through cancer, you don’t take it as much for granted anymore.”
Moak said the support he received from not only his friends and family but also the McComb Market and people throughout the area kept him going through the stressful time.
“I like to think of everybody in Southwest Mississippi as part of my family,” Moak said.
Moak announced his diagnosis in February 2019 and in late March, McComb Market held a fundraiser, selling about 2,500 ribeye steaks at $12 a plate until none were left.
“I’m very thankful for all the thoughts and prayers I’ve been receiving — letters from home — and also the fundraiser I had,” Moak said. “It turned out amazing, and I can’t thank everybody enough. I want to thank the employees of McComb Market and the Loy family (owners) for all their support during this time.”
Though he said he is back in his position, Moak is taking his work slow while he regains his strength.
“I wouldn’t say part-time, but I’m back just trying to get my feet wet,” Moak said of his schedule. “I’m still a little weak — lost a pretty good bit of weight, but I’m gaining it back, and I’m gaining my strength back. The more I’m on my feet, the more I can stay on my feet.”
Though he said cancer changed much of his day-to-day life, he is confident he will be back to his health before his diagnosis soon. He said he has no plans to retire.
“As long as my health stays like it is and better, I’m planning on working a few more years.”
Moak said he will have medical bills for the rest of his life, but that is a small price to pay for his survival.
“The bills will probably never stop, but it is just a blessing to be back at work,” Moak said.
Moak’s journey to McComb Market started in 1975 at the age of 17 when he was hired to stock shelves at Jitney Jungle. He quickly moved up the ladder and then moved to the Delaware Avenue store, which eventually became McComb Market, in 1985.
“I worked here all my life, and like I say, it is the greatest community there is,” Moak said.