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Sandy Huggins

Caregivers Colon Cancer Kansas
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Sandy's story

In February, my daughter Patsy was taken to the hospital emergency room. After the CT scan, doctors were saying it was colitis, but one said, "It could also be a tumor, but I doubt it given your age."

Patsy was only 34.

It was terrible weather last February: Lots of snow, schools, and roads were closed.  This was on a Friday night so Patsy had to sit at the hospital sipping clear liquids until Monday, which was when they could do a colonoscopy.

The day of the colonoscopy, Patsy's husband Ryan and I were with her when they took her back. We were in the recovery room waiting.

It had only been about 15 min when they brought her back, and I remember thinking, "This doesn't seem right." When the doctor came in he had a very pained look on his face. He said, "As I started the procedure, I ran into an obstruction. I can't be positive,  but it looks like cancer."

At that moment, something changed in me. Something I can't explain, I wanted to scream, "No! Not my baby, not cancer." But instead of screaming I looked down at my daughter, I told her that we would get through it. Together, we would get through it; what ever it took.

There were a lot of tears that day, but also laughter, I know that sounds funny but I don't think we could have gotten though any of it without laughter.

The day of surgery, it was just me and Ryan. My husband was stranded out of town, and Patsy's brother and sister could not fly in because the airport was closed. So Ryan and I waited alone. The doctor doing the surgery promised us he would be there. He had four wheel drive. He made it.

So, we waited for what seemed like forever; I, at one point, went back into the off-limits area of the surgery holding room. I was going nuts. The doc finally came out. He said it went well; they removed the tumor and did a resection, no colostomy; on the liver they took a wedge with clean margins, also a spot on the abdominal wall and several lymph nodes.

Our journey through cancer was just beginning. 

From that moment, I didn't want to leave her side. I just had to be with her. I needed to be with her. I stayed at the hospital, and when she came home, I even slept in the same bed with her.

Being so close, I got to witness her incredible strength, her joy and her sorrow. Right away, she made it clear that she was going to fight this cancer with joy, faith in God, and positive people. And a lot of dancing. The kids love the dance parties.

Chemo is rough (don't let anyone tell you otherwise) and watching your child go through it is terrible. It's not like when they are children and you can kiss it and make it better, or get an antibiotic.

This is real, and you can't fix it.

I remember being in the waiting room at the cancer center after about the second or third round of chemo, and Patsy was so weak and sick. She just laid her head down on my shoulder, and I laid my mine on top of hers and we sat there like that, with me just holding her.

I will never forget that day. All you can do is be there for her and support her. So that is what I did; that is what all of her family and friends did. She has an awesome support system. Her husband has been wonderful, her dad a mountain of strength, and her brother and sister a source of endless laughter.

So here we are almost 11 months after diagnoses, due to go back for the first three-month checkup next month. The anxiety is the hardest. It never fully leaves and that is in me. I can't even imagine what it must be like for Patsy. But we have to stay positive. Keep the faith. And dance.

Sandy's advice

Never give up. Find a support system, because you will need it. And don't forget to laugh. A lot.

What One Million Strong means to me

It means that some one else knows what you are going through. They are fighting with you. You are not alone.

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