Stories of Perseverance: Robin Cahoon, Scott Hewitt and Kristen Delnick
Written by Amanda Schrauben
Mary Robidoux, Robin Cahoon, Scott Hewitt, and Kristen Delnick are family. They have also shared in each other’s journey with four different types of cancer. Through support, understanding, and a family bond, they have been able to fight together and individually to battle cancer. Robin and Scott are siblings and Kristen is Robin’s daughter. Mary is Robin and Scott’s aunt and great aunt, also like a grandmother to Kristen.
The family’s journey with cancer started in 2015 when Aunt Mary Robidoux was coughing and having trouble swallowing for a few months. Doctors ended up finding throat cancer. She struggled and had a feeding tube and tracheostomy. Through it all, she had her ups and downs, but she kept fighting. After several complications, she passed away in June 2016. Shortly before her passing, Scott found out he had lung cancer.
Scott has a history of heart issues and sought medical care when he thought he was having a heart attack. Scans revealed his heart was fine but showed a spot on his right lung. Following a PET scan a biopsy was performed. While on vacation in May 2016, he received the call that he had cancer. He continued on with his vacation not wanting to ruin the time with his sister and her husband but was prepared to face cancer when he returned.
Diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, surgery took place in June 2016. The lower lobe of his right lung was removed. It was to be performed by a robot, but during surgery a conventional method ended up being used. Lung cancer is often not diagnosed until it is in late stages. Scott believes he is fortunate doctors found something on his lung during the heart scan. Radiation and chemotherapy were performed at the same time. Chemo was three treatments eight weeks apart while radiation took place every day for three months. Scott’s radiation was complete in December 2018.
One of the side effects he has had to deal with is back pain. Five weeks ago a spinal cord stimulator was inserted under his skin to help control the chronic issue. A mild electric current is sent to the spinal cord and masks pain signals before they go to the brain. Scott has been able to better manage pain and improve his quality of life with the stimulator.
As Scott was going through treatment for his lung cancer, in October 2016 his sister, Robin got a phone call that she needed to see an oncologist the day after bloodwork showed her white cell count was very high. The oncologist did more bloodwork and a bone marrow biopsy which confirmed PH+CML, a type of leukemia. Her first day of chemo treatments started the same day.
Robin has now been on daily chemo pills for two and a half years with breaks for a few short days here and there. She has bloodwork done monthly and sees an oncologist every three months to monitor other BCR-ABL numbers for cancer.
Robin’s daughter, Kristen began her journey as a cancer patient in October 2018 when she was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. The cancer was discovered after a variety of symptoms led her to an endocrinologist after a lump on the right side of her neck. The lump turned out to be on the left side. Kristen was told it never would have been found if she didn’t keep pushing for tests. Finally a nodule biopsy was done on the left side of her thyroid to determine the cause of swelling in the area and cancer was found. Surgery was done to remove the cancer and she was told she’d be just fine.
Although the cancer has been removed, she will remain on thyroid medication the rest of her life and has had to deal with various side effects which have caused her to quit driving a school bus. It is not uncommon with thyroid cancer for growth to return. Monitoring every six months will track any additional growth. After being told she would be fine post surgery, Kristen didn’t anticipate the side effects she faced. She looked to online support groups for thyroid cancer to get information from those who had personally experienced this type of cancer.
These three individuals have had to face different kinds of cancer. Already a close family, the three, alongside other members of the family have battled together. The trio are thankful to those who have walked beside them, especially spouses who have seen good and bad times during treatment and in recovery.
Scott says being true to himself without hiding feelings is what has helped him through his journey. Robin has found the support and love of her husband, family and friends in addition to her faith helps her throughout her journey. Kristen has found support from her dad, mom, bonus dad, husband, kids, in-laws, and friends. She and Robin have a very special bond and friendship. Her husband, Casey was there during biopsies and stood by her side while she was terrified of what was to come. And he remained by her side for surgery and after to help do all he could to care for her and the kids, offering ice packs, pain meds, and hugs. Kristen’s two best friends have also been by her side, helping her and her family. One even flew to Michigan from Florida when she had surgery. And the people she worked with at the bus garage brought meals and treats for her kids.
Scott, Robin, and Kristen recognize that while they’re dealing with cancer it also affects their immediate family as well. Scott and Robin have spouses who have gone out of their way to help and show support. Robin’s husband, Jim, made a quilt from some of his shirts so that his wife could use it if she were home alone. Scott’s wife, Kathy worked extra hours when he couldn’t work as much in order to help with finances. Kristen had to explain cancer and care to her three girls who have seen others in the family become sick and even pass away. Through the emotional toll, each has remained faithful. Strong wills and a dash or two of stubbornness, which runs in the family, get them through. They are also thankful for what Pink Arrow does for the community and how the organization has helped them personally.