Wings of Hope — Wendy Hampton
Cancer. When that word stands alone it conjures up visions of uneasiness and anxiety. For those who have experienced its effects, it can bring up deep feelings of fear, sadness, or isolation. Our featured four women, however, have sought to redefine what cancer means. When faced with their own cancer diagnoses, these women reached through the darkness of the word “cancer” to find healing and a more constructive path for themselves. To define their journeys they’ve chosen new words that hold a curative power more motivating than they ever imagined — “support,” “appreciation,” “gratitude,” and “advocacy.”
Meet the second of four women who are . . . Emerging from the Darkness of Cancer and Flying into the Light of Hope.
Date of Diagnosis: October 2019
Age Diagnosed: 44 (now 45)
Type of Cancer: High Grade Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma
It was a surprise to Wendy Hampton when her medical chart read “cancer.” Her doctor assumed a fibroid tumor was to blame for the medical issues Wendy was experiencing and said its removal “shouldn’t be a big deal.” But after testing was done, it was found to be cancerous. At 44 years old, Wendy was diagnosed with high grade endometrial stromal sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. “It woke me up,” Wendy says of her diagnosis.
For over 19 years, Wendy’s focus had been on her role as a mother. Her two daughters were very active, and their schedule was always packed full which, of course, meant Wendy’s was as well. Keeping up with her kids and going back to work kept Wendy living a busy and over-planned existence, “I kind of floated through life. I lived on the schedule and didn’t have to think,” Wendy says, “Getting cancer completely changed that.”
Realizing she wanted to live her best life in the here and now, Wendy made a conscious choice to change. “I probably missed a lot of moments because I was so busy and stuck in my head,” Wendy says. When she started chemotherapy treatments, she stopped her habit of hurrying and began a new one. “I’m learning to embrace each day. I don’t allow it to pass me by without being able to see it and feel it.”
Learning to live in gratitude wasn’t always a cure for down and tired times. Wendy says her treatments took a toll on her physically. For anyone else going through this process, she encourages them to reach out to friends or family for help. “On certain days, you have to rest. So you have to let people help you,” Wendy says.
Living in the little moments also allowed Wendy to connect on a deeper level to those around her. “I’m a better everything…a better friend and a better mother.” One way her friendships have been bolstered is through cancer support groups. “It’s nice to hear from other people who have gone through what you’ve gone through.” Wendy found organizations she enjoyed through Facebook and through the Norton Cancer Institute, and she encourages others in her position to do the same.
After completing her medical protocol five months ago, Wendy is attending regular follow-up appointments and scans. “My comeback is going to be stronger than my setback. I have cancer, but cancer does not have me,” she says. So it won’t be at all a surprise when her chart officially reads “cancer-free.”