Becky Hammack will celebrate her 42nd birthday July 1 and 17th wedding anniversary July 17. But the milestones will be bittersweet celebrations since she and her family and friends know she will most likely not live to see her 43rd birthday or 18th anniversary.
Hammack, a Kempner resident, was told six weeks ago that she is dying of lung cancer. Described as a “picture of health” before cancer ravaged her body, her husband, Arles Hammack, said the cancer diagnosis came as a shock to everyone.
“It just came out of the blue on us about a month ago. At first, doctors thought it was an inner ear infection. Then they thought it was a sciatic nerve until they discovered the tumor on her back,” Arles Hammack said. “Doctors were trying to treat something else because none of us thought it was cancer. She was lying in the hospital with a hurting hip and hurting back when the doctors came in and said ‘You have stage 4 cancer.’ That’s going to scare anyone.”
The cancer has since spread into Becky Hammack’s back, her muscles and her brain. She had her hip replaced because the tumor became so large it cracked her hip bone. She is in and out of the hospital not only for chemotherapy treatments, but also for blood infusions as her red blood cell count keeps dropping.
lost 30 pounds
Because of the cancer, she lost 30 pounds in six weeks and has limited use of her legs. She continues to receive chemotherapy with the hope of extending the life she has left.
“At the diagnosis, the doctors told us that she had six months (to live). But only the man upstairs knows the date. No one else knows that,” Arles Hammack said. “Our 17- and 14-year-old (children) take it the toughest that they are losing their mom. Some days are good and some days are bad.”
The Hammacks own Hammack Bulldozer Service and Arles Hammack said it is difficult to be away from his wife while working. But financially he has no choice.
“If I don’t work, the ship sinks. We have bills to pay and even though we only have to pay a percentage of the medical costs, it’s mounting every day and will be well over $100,000,” he said. “And that doesn’t include the prior bills when the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with her.”
The community has rallied around the Hammack family and hopes to raise $10,000 through a fundraising auction Saturday, said Jerri Jeske, president of the Kempner VFW Ladies Auxiliary.
“It will be a family affair all day long. Every penny we raise will go to the Hammack family,” Jeske said. “All the food and items are donated. It’s heartbreaking to see someone so vibrant and watch what cancer does to them, but it’s been an amazing thing to see everyone pulling together for this family.”
Donations to any of the auctions are accepted through today and may be dropped off at the Kempner VFW, 424 County Road 4953, or call 254-547-6815.
If you go:
Fundraiser for Becky Hammack
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday
9 a.m. — Burrito breakfast, silent auction opens, children’s games, dunking booth and train available.
Noon — Hot dog, hamburger and pulled pork luncheon.
2 p.m. — Live auction.
5 p.m. — Dessert auction.
7 p.m. — Brisket dinner with salad.
9 p.m. to midnight — Live music.