Sam, aka SamIam aka Samantha She had just finished working her way through 3, yes 3, college degrees, all the way up to her Masters in Psychology where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. She worked her way thru college at the bottom of mental health, and when I say bottom, I mean wiping them. She took her National Boards while waiting for medical appointments she was diagnosed with Cancer, and received her Certification of Being a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst ( BCBA) the day after diagnosis. She has used her degree and works with Adult Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities. She gives 100% and there is no person she doesn’t do her best for. She found her passion three years into college and switched majors, then drilled it down to her specific field. She works in behaviors, and is a super star at behavior plans that WORK. She is the first person on either side of my family tree or her Dads to FINISH college other than her Great Grandmother LuLu Sanders who was a nurse in the 50’s. To quote her Daddy, ” the only thing bigger than her brain is her heart”.
Samantha is my oldest, my first born the one who made me a mom, the first to make my dad a PawPaw and the first girl. To say she was a bit spoiled would be a HUGE understatement. But as much as she was dressed in lace and frills Samantha had the spirit for it. As a cheer leading coach I was sure my daughter would ADORE being the mascot for my girls. She sat the bench in protest at 5.
Samantha began her life time calling as a big sister at 3. She was livid it was a boy, and has never forgiven me or him for that.
However when she became a big sister again at 13 to another little boy, she took the job as serious as a heart surgeon, she is hands down, THE BEST BIG SISTER EVER. She spoils her little potato and cheers him on every level.
Samantha takes great pride in who she is. She’s never been sick. She worked her way thru college and was keyed up to get off that college student ramen diet and kick open the world because she did everything right.
But Metaplastic Breast Cancer decided to show up and now we are in a holding pattern, but confident she will indeed be incredibly well off and have a house with a mother in law cottage for me in a lovely beach town.
Samantha continues to work,not only so she can continue to have insurance that helps on some degree with her care, but because she is needed in her field. She makes sure no one falls thru the cracks, and if you know our mental health system there are a LOT of cracks.
In short, Samantha is an amazing human. There wasn’t a 6 am call from Pawpaw that his internet was broken where she didn’t show up. Holidays and memories especially with grandparents, always took priority. She never broke a curfew, snuck out, came home drunk. She never took advantage or didn’t give someone the benefit of the doubt.
Her best friend since 7th grade is Raven who is a special education elementary teacher. The were College RoomMates and still are best friends and Roommates, with their awesome pets.
Samantha has always been an animal lover. Since her diagnosis she has very much wanted the comfort of animals. We’ve been able to pet a cow and feed a horse, visit a fennel fox and a sugar glider. At home she has a cat named Banshee and a Lizard named Siddy.
Samantha was born 30. She’s more of an adult, and way better at it than I am and I’m her mom.
In 10th grade she was part of the Congressional Leadership Conference and went to the Capital to represent our state and helped pass a bill. She repeatedly sang the National Anthem at every single Veterans event her PawPaw organized. Laying flags on Veterans graves, donating to food banks, and helping to promote community inclusion for those with IDD are her main passions. She drags along her eager yet slow and not so great on her feet mom ( me) on camping trips, and Renaissance Fairs. When she graduated high school she an I went to New York, I thought tourist things, she was 17 and wanted to see the United Nations and Monty Python on Broadway.
Simply put she’s amazing, often inappropriate, always full volume, humor and a rapier like wit. She’s the woman I want to be when I grow up, the sister we all wish we had, and her Daddys Princess. She loves babies and wants to be a foster parent and eventually adopt, both kids and animals. Because she’s got an amazing amount of love and patience.
She’s a foodie, but not the take a picture of your plate kind, she the kind that finds the hole in the wall, where you get authentic food. She thanks the chef every time. But on a desert level you better have your degree in French decadence because she is a connoisseur of amazing deserts.
Sam loves hard, loud, and on her own terms. She is simply Sam I Am. She takes no prisoners when you cross her, but she will fight to the death for someones rights and happiness.
Of course all if this is just my view, and I’m her mom. She’s my baby girl, my first, my heart. She did nothing wrong, she followed every rule, Cancer shouldn’t have picked her. Especially this cancer. She has zero risk factors other than being my daughter.
After the loss of both grandparents last year, Samantha focused hard to finish her boards. In January she noticed that lump that had been dismissed had changed. She made an appointment and in March 2019 she was diagnosed with cancer via 4 core biopsies that immediately followed a 3D ultrasound which immediately followed a mammogram once her Doctor touched it. Samantha said she knew, there was no doubt, not within herself or the faces of the people along the way. The team moved fast and for that we are grateful. Port put in, 2nd opinion and oversight from MD Anderson with another 4 core biopsies, put the A&C chemo plan in place.
Sam started her A&C combo chemo plan, known as the “Red Devil”. Her body reacted immediately and harshly. She was hospitalized with acute Pancreatitis and was pinned down by retractable vomiting for about 6 weeks. To compromised and weak and sick to attend the biggest even in her life. Her baby brothers graduation. A couple days later we found out the chemo didn’t work. The tumor had grown.
Sams care was moved immediately to MD Anderson to a specialist there for this EXACT cancer. They are conducting many research plans and trials Sam is part of 3. One called the Artimus project, to identify this cancer as a sub class/combo cancer that is “Cancer in the Breast” not “Breast Cancer, as Metaplsatic means it is of other cells, and Triple Negative makes up less than 1 % of all breast cancers. It’s Invasive and Aggressive and you can read more about it here.
Now we fight. As a family. Our way. With our friends by our side, and Humor as our shields.