EPPING — Selectman Karen Falcone made an emotional return to the board Monday night after missing several meetings in recent weeks while she battled a rare and life-threatening medical condition.
The 65-year-old Falcone, who serves as chairman of the board, has been in and out of hospitals since June 26 after falling ill.
Doctors weren’t sure what the condition was at first, but after medical experts from several Boston hospitals reviewed her case, Falcone was diagnosed two weeks ago with fibromuscular dysplasia, a disease that caused narrowing of the arteries in her kidneys. Falcone lost some function in one of her kidneys and other organs almost shut down before doctors realized what was happening and began properly treating the disease.
While still recovering, Falcone was strong enough to attend Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting, where she was greeted by several members of the police and fire departments and other town employees.
Falcone struggled to fight back tears as Selectman Dianne Gilbert presented her with a bouquet of flowers on behalf of the town.
“I have been asked many times by people why I serve as selectman of this town and my answer is always the same. I love this town and I try to do my best by its people. I learned in the past month, however, the power of love, support and positive attitudes of this town I love so much. You have all come forward and stood by my and my husband’s side more than I could ever have imagined,” she said.
Falcone found comfort in the many prayer groups, messages of support on Facebook, e-mail, get well cards, and flowers. She said the outpouring of support gave her the will “not to give up the fight as hard as it got at times to live.
“Thank you are just two very simple words that cannot express my gratitude for what you as a town and a community have done for me and my family. And to all the town employees, town departments, town administrator, and the four other members of the board of selectmen, thank you all so much for having my back,” she said.