The Hicks' Family's Story
On Susan - Wife & Mother
Surreal was how it felt in April 2006 when we found out that Mom had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Our Mom was such an energetic and fearless person who strived to make a difference in anything she undertook. How did a woman of her vitality have lung cancer? She was a Pampered Chef consultant and party host, the Youth and Children’s Director for our church, president of the Conover Junior Service League, served on the Conover City school board, and was a mother, sister, daughter, and wife. Our family was devastated and knew we had a long battle ahead of us.
Her only symptom was fatigue and trouble breathing after walking long distances. She was originally diagnosed with pneumonia, given antibiotics, and told to go home and rest; but the symptoms didn’t go away. That is when the doctors removed fluid from her lung, discovering she had Stage III lung cancer. We remember doing research and learning the 5-year survival rate of lung cancer patients was only 15%. But we weren’t going to let this stop us, we were ready to battle!
We decided to get another opinion and that’s when we meet Dr. Jennifer Garst at Duke. She gave our family HOPE! Our Mom battled hard and endured six months of intensive chemotherapy and treatments at Duke Cancer Center. She wanted to know how she could take up the fight against lung cancer while she was fighting her own battle. She never gave up hope: she faced everyday with strength, courage, and her strong faith in God.
When our Mom realized she wasn’t going to win the battle against lung cancer, my dad, sister, and I made a promise that we would continue the fight for her. On October 21, 2006 this terrible disease took her life, six months after her diagnosis at the age of 51. Our family knew our Mom’s fight might have ended, but our fight had just begun. Therefore, we founded the Susan C. Hicks Hope Charities (SCHHC) in memory of our Mom to continue the fight against lung cancer - an idea first conceived by our Mom during her battle. Mom said she said that she had cancer to survive and help others. Our Mom’s spirit is what drives our family to continue this fight against lung cancer, and for this we survive for her. This charity has raised over $75,000 so far for lung cancer research and awareness, and college scholarships for students headed into the teaching field, two things very important to our Mom.
After founding the SCHHC we discovered that this organization was the leading force in funding research, inspiring hope, and bringing awareness to lung cancer in North Carolina. Our Mom had heard about them from Dr. Garst and she wanted to know everything about the organization, its mission; she was ready to tackle this terrible disease. We are proud to have joined forces and to partner with such a powerful organization. Our family has participated in the 5K in Raleigh and Boone, the Yogathon, Evening of Hope Gala, and Durham Bulls Lung Cancer Night. Now, we are putting on the inaugural NC Lung Cancer Golf Tournament in Hickory. Our Dad serves on the Boards of Directors and we are both volunteers and advocates. We are blessed to be part of such a wonderful organization.
Our Mom was too great of a person to let her legacy die. She may not be with us in body but she is with us in spirit and that is what drives us. As Mom always said to us, “Having the ability to make a difference in someone’s life is a gift; we should use that gift every day, and even if we only make a difference in one person’s life, we have achieved something great.” We remain thankful and remember a Mom who never stopped loving and giving; who instilled in us a love and passion for life and to also fight for a cause. Because of you, Mom, we will never give up the fight!