Today is Sam’s birthday. Peggy packs up his favorite treats—Goose Island Grape Soda and peanut butter cookies—but today they’re not for Sam. Instead, Peggy takes them to the staff and physicians of the Frank C. Love Cancer Institute, the place where Sam spent his last days. But Peggy doesn’t see it as a place of sadness. For her and her family, St. Anthony is a place that gave her comfort and hope throughout their journey.
In 2009, Sam’s struggle began. He started having bladder problems, and soon after, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. After surgeries and treatment, it seemed Sam was back to normal, but unfortunately, that was just the beginning.
In 2013, the cancer was back. The doctors completely removed his bladder. “We called Sam our John Wayne because he never sat down,” Peggy said. “Even though he was so sick, he was still baling hay, checking cattle, and flying all over.” But next came a tumor on his sciatic nerve, followed by cancer in his shoulder. Before long, Sam also began having problems with his kidneys and his heart. He fought a long and difficult 7-year battle, and he passed away in August 2016.
But seven years was a great gift. These treasured years allowed Sam more joy, more memories. He even was able to attend his granddaughter’s wedding. Peggy and his family credit the St. Anthony doctors and staff for the extra time they shared. And now, they want Sam to be remembered.
So here they are—Peggy and her family—here to celebrate Sam’s birthday with their extended family at St. Anthony. Peggy says:
People ask me, why would you go back there? And I tell them, because Saints isn’t the reason he is gone. He was a fighter, and we came to a place that helped him fight.
Peggy knows the value of having a place to feel at home, when you can’t be at your own. She supports the expansion of the cancer institute: “If you believe in something with all your heart, you will want to donate and make it better for the next generation. My heart is here. This is the last place I was with him, and the memories are wonderful. I think you should support what you believe. I believe in St. Anthony.”