Huey battling rare form of cancer, looking for ways to help others fight

PUNXSUTAWNEY — It's a diagnosis that no one ever wants to hear, most certainly a young person — and that is cancer. For 23-year-old Stephanie Huey, it was the diagnosis that changed her life.

When one thinks of cancer, many of the obvious types may pop into the mind, such as breast cancer, lung cancer or pancreatic cancer.

However, what many don't realize is that there are other rare forms of cancer as well.

It was in July 2012, when Huey was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer
called Angiosarcoma.

Angiosarcoma is a cancer of the inner lining of blood vessels and can occur in any part of the body.

According to her mother, Linda, Stephanie was misdiagnosed the first time and put on the wrong treatment for six months.

However, the family would soon learn that misdiagnosis is quite common because of the rarity of Angiosarcoma.

The worries started when she discovered a lump on her left pelvic area. After the doctors lanced it, other tumors started to spread.

"The tumors were unlike anything they had ever seen before, so they sent samples off to Pittsburgh."

She began treatments at the Clarion Cancer Center, where she continues to receive them.

"I have been on three different kinds of chemo; two didn't work and one had kept it stable, but stopped working," said Huey, adding that she then began to have major problems, which landed her in the hospital and then on hospice care.

“The doctors didn't think I was going to make it a couple of nights," she said.

"They didn't think she would even survive the ambulance ride home," added Linda.

Huey has been on different types of chemo, but as Linda explained, some are the right treatment for kidney, lung and other forms of cancer, but not Angiosarcoma.

"She is on the fifth one, and there are six types of chemo for this sarcoma," she added.

Despite the setbacks, Huey said everything slowly got better after a few months, and she was able to walk again.

Huey said she has been back on chemo since the first of November 2013, and it is finally working. All the tumors she has are shrinking.

"I honestly didn't think I would make it to my next birthday, but I did, and I celebrated with a Dairy Queen cake," she added.

Her battle with cancer has left her wanting to connect with others facing the same battle.

Huey said at least 15 of the cancer patients she befriended on Facebook have passed away due either to the cancer or the complications from it.

Feeling the need to both help out the community and give back, Huey decided to start doing some fundraising.

She will hold a Spring Craft/Vendor Fair and Car Cruising event at the First Church of God from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 31, with all proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life Team Hope.

A bake sale will also be held that day, with food being available for purchase.

Admission to the event is free.

Aside from the craft/vendor fair, Huey will also be helping out three other organizations that not only fund cancer research, but also help cancer patients.

She plans to do a 5K/10K run for Angiosarcoma, which will raise money for research awareness on that specific form of cancer.

She also plans to do Cycle for Survival, with proceeds going to Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, which does nothing but cancer research.

The third organization she hopes to fundraise for is "For Pete's Sake," which Huey described as being similar to Make-A-Wish, but for adults with terminal cancer.

It was through For Pete's Sake, that Huey had her wish granted to visit Disney World.

In order to be chosen by the organization, one must be nominated by a doctor or nurse and the case has to be terminal.

Huey said she will get a scan done soon, and if the cancer is gone, then she'll finally be able get off of chemo.

"Hope and faith is what has gotten me through this. It has given me the strength to keep on fighting," she said.