Carmen McHugh

In January 1999, Carmen McHugh was diagnosed with breast cancer. She began treatment immediately and only a few months later, after her second round of chemotherapy, her husband [James] had two seizures back to back. Carmen, James and their two children, ages 12 and 14, huddled in the cramped emergency room, waiting for answers. “I remember my hair falling out in clumps onto the emergency room floor as we waited,” she recalled. When the doctor came in, we chose to hear the news as a family. That is when a bad year got even worse. On March 2000, Carmen’s husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. “We only cried together twice as a family. First, when I was diagnosed and second, when he was diagnosed. The rest of the time we joked and tried to keep things as normal as possible,” she said. So the pair embarked on their journey together, they attended chemotherapy treatments together, scheduled their radiation on the same days, went bald together and laughed together. “Through the roughest days and the worst news, my husband stayed positive and joking. When I had my mastectomy, he told me, ‘It’s ok, I didn’t like that one anyways.’ We both laughed and moved on,” she said. As James’s brain tumors began to progress, Carmen found herself stepping into the role of caregiver despite her own illness. When he began to lose balance and memory, Carmen realized the severity of his condition and knew that while his spirits uplifted her, he needed her now, more than ever. “I believe that the day I found out about his cancer, God cured me so that I could take care of him. I was able to care for him until the very end and he never lost his spirit,” Carmen said. James passed away in July 2000, just shortly after their family celebrated a beautiful quinceañera for their daughter. 19 years have passed since Carmen first faced her diagnosis. She holds tightly to the memory of James by cherishing the good memories and honoring him by loving her second chance at life.

In January 1999, Carmen McHugh was diagnosed with breast cancer. She began treatment immediately and only a few months later, after her second round of chemotherapy, her husband [James] had…

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