Stories From Our Families - February Edition

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Long before the doctors diagnosed her cancer in May 2017, Amy Hood knew something was wrong. Amy, 52, has been in pain since she fell off a ladder and ruptured three discs in her neck in 1996. But this pain was different, and she knew it. Finally, her extreme pain drove her to the emergency room. That’s when they found the cancer.

Amy has colon cancer. Doctors have described the tumors in her body as baseball-sized. When she underwent surgery in October, doctors told her son they didn’t expect her to leave the hospital. She was a stronger fighter than they imagined.

She spends most of her time now in the Liverpool apartment she shares with her son and her boyfriend. Her son, Gary, 33, is her best friend, Amy said. He drives the 64-mile roundtrip to her chemotherapy and wherever else she wants to go. She calls Gary her blessing and her angel.

Some other angels have come into Amy’s life: Vicki’s Angels. “They are wonderful people,” Amy said.

Her boyfriend of 31 years is disabled with back issues. They both get checks, and she gets food stamps, but things are tight. “We barely make it through the month,” Amy said.

When a new owner told her he was going to raise the rent on the apartment where they’ve lived for 16 years, Amy told him she simply couldn’t pay it. One thing led to another, and two weeks before Christmas she received an eviction notice.

Then along came Mickey Minnich. He talked directly to the landlord and charmed him into hiking the rent just $25 a month, rather than $125. Plus Vicki’s Angels paid the arrears. They have since helped with Amy’s car payment and electric bill.

“If it wasn’t for Mickey,” she said through tears, “I’d be on the street. Vicki’s Angels really are angels. They really help.”

A glance into Amy’s life makes it seem like she needs an angel or two. Her son has fought cancer twice. The first time he was weeks from high school graduation when cancer was found in a lymph node in his skull. The second time, in 2012, he had thyroid cancer that required surgery and radiation.

Amy’s mother and grandmother both died of lung cancer. In 2014, she lost her brother and a close cousin to heart attacks. Then three of her friends died within six months.

Despite all her loss, Amy said, “I still feel blessed that I have a wonderful son.”

Up until Christmas, Amy enjoyed time on her computer. But her pain makes that difficult now. She spends a lot of her days watching movies on TV.

We all face death, but Amy has been told hers will come sooner than it should. She accepts that, but she worries what that will do to her son.

What’s tough, she said, “is knowing you are going to leave your loved ones behind.”

                                                 -written by Nancy Eshelman