Wilmington, NC – Angie’s Story, written by Angie Smock of Wilmington, shares the gripping journey she endured with diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer. With no medical insurance, the loss of her mother and grandmother, mounting bills, and a limited support system, how could she move forward? Angie was alone and afraid.
By Angie Smock
In August of 2010, I had a clean mammogram. In February of 2011, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. I was the youngest of 3 children and the only female. My mother had passed away in 2003. My Grandmother passed away in 2005. With no women to guide me, I was scared. I felt isolated and very unsure. How would my husband and I navigate this uncharted path? I needed sisters and women around me. I needed someone who had been down this road before, but who? I was desperate for information and for someone who understood.
Lucky for me, I heard about a physician’s forum being held in my hometown. Here was my opportunity to learn more about my cancer and perhaps meet others who could relate to me. I attended the forum, and walked away with more information than I thought possible! I was able to speak to a panel of 4 or 5 physicians. The best thing, it was a free event. Otherwise, I would not have been able to attend. I had no insurance, and could not work!
I also heard about a support group for women with any type of cancer. WOW! Who was this organization reaching out to women during their most uncertain times? I had to know. I quickly learned it was Women of Hope.
The next week, I met Elizabeth and Kenny Barnes. Their compassion for my plight was sincere and genuine. I was quickly asked how could Women of Hope help? This is where that uncharted and uncertain path became the ROAD OF HOPE! I joined the support group and instantly gained about 5 sisters, all of us fighting a different battle, but all bonded by the disease of cancer. Support groups were pivotal in my journey. I had a safe place to cry, to say I was scared, to be given reassurance and HOPE. To give others HOPE.
About halfway through my chemotherapy treatment, my physician ordered a mammogram. A second cancer was discovered. The tumor board met, and my treatment was changed to a more aggressive therapy. The therapy, I was told, would wreak havoc on my body – but no one told me it could impact my mind, a rare side-effect.
After the first new treatment, my husband found me up in the middle of the night, very confused and almost “child-like” in my demeanor! The next day, he went to work, only to come home to discover the confusion had worsened. He was terrified. He didn’t know what to do. He HAD to work. I didn’t have family to turn to. He was scared to leave me alone.
While pondering on what to do with me, he remembered me talking about Women of Hope! He found Elizabeth’s card and called her. “You don’t know me, I am Bradley, Angie’s husband! I don’t know what to do!” He explained what was going on and hoped she would have a resource to help look after me during the day while he was working. Elizabeth asked Bradley what time he went to work. He said, EARLY! “I leave the house around 6:15 to be at work by 6:45.” Elizabeth replied, “here is our home address, bring her to us!” For the next year, during my three-week chemotherapy treatment cycles, I would go to the Barnes home, where I would be greeted at the door by a smiling Elizabeth, escorted back to a comfortable bedroom to sleep a few more hours, fed nutritious meals, given my scheduled medicine, and given lots and lots of love! This very act, gave my husband Bradley and me, HOPE.
When you go through a cancer journey you have no idea what you are going to need. Every journey is different. We had no idea in the beginning of my treatment I would suffer with temporary dementia. We had no idea the financial burden we would be put under. With love and reassurance, Women of Hope helped us endure difficult times in paying for rent, new tires on our vehicle, medicine, and transportation to the doctor. The best gift of all was HOPE. Hope is priceless!
Note: Four years since diagnosis, Angie’s cancer is under control and monitored on a quarterly basis. She and her husband are both working and living in Wilmington.
As a nonprofit organization, Women of Hope provides a wide-range of free services to improve the quality of life for female cancer patients and their families. Programs are funded by events such as The East Coast Shag Classic, Jan. 29-Feb. 1, in Wrightsville Beach. Visit: www.eastcoastshagclassic.com
Penny Millis, Chair
Women of Hope
Robert B Butler | PR www.RBButler.com