Amy, a Survivor's Story

Amy, a Survivor's Story
Amy, a Survivor's Story
Where Are They Now?
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Last November, Amy dropped by Friends of Karen to donate toys for our holiday gifts for children program, and we got to talking.  She holds a marketing job with an Italian telecommunications firm and, for fun, enjoys rock climbing, skiing, parachuting and sky-diving.

But on Halloween 1986, as six-year-old Amy was dressing up as a Southern belle, complete with a pink parasol, she suddenly became violently sick. She seemed to improve and went back to school, but her teacher noticed she had trouble concentrating.  Her doctor ran more tests and identified a complex situation: a serious intestinal condition plus non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.  In January 1987, Amy had surgery to remove a portion of her intestine, and soon after began a course of chemotherapy.

“It was such a tough time for all of us,” says Amy’s mom, Joy, “and somehow, Friends of Karen found us.”

“I remember the good much more than the bad, like painting in the hospital playroom,” Amy says.  “I remember the holiday gifts and decorations and the back-to-school clothes from Friends of Karen.”  Friends of Karen also helped the family with the utility and phone bills, and provided gifts to Amy’s sister as well.

The chemo caused Amy’s hair to fall out -- she hated the chemo – but she got through the ordeal with the three girls in her hospital room. Her dad gave manicures to all the little girls on their floor; she and the other girls had wheelchair races up and down the halls; she had a cuddly stuffed dog that was her constant companion.

After eighteen months, Amy was clear of all symptoms, and has never had a relapse.  Because she had missed school so much, she had to repeat second grade, “but I had the same teacher and I adored her, so that was fine with me!”

“Just the fact that Friends of Karen was there was such a support,” Joy says.  “They were a true friend.”  

Joy stayed in touch with Friends of Karen throughout the years and both she and Amy spread the word about our services. And, nearly 25 years later, Amy is still friends with the three girls who were her roommates in the hospital. 

“You go through something like that together, you form a bond,” she explains. “A really special kind of bond.”


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