To her children, Stephanie Hackett is known as Mommy. To her husband, she's the devoted wife he married six years ago. To people in Columbia County, she's known as the woman who worked diligently at the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce for many years.
Today, Stephanie Hackett is a 33-year-old woman reeling from a sudden diagnosis of colon cancer and subsequent surgery to remove three-fourths of her colon, spleen, a portion of her pancreas, a large tumor and several smaller masses.
"I can't believe it has happened," said Hackett, who for many years served as director of community activities and office manager for the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. "I've been in denial."
Hackett is recovering at home after colon surgery a month after a bout with severe stomach pains and dramatic weight loss. She still can't believe she's here to tell her story.
"By all accounts, this isn't supposed to happen to someone my age," said the stay-at-home mother of sons Hunter, 3, and Chandler, 5 months, and stepmother to 16-year-old Kevin. "I want the word to get out that this can happen to anybody, no matter the age."
Hackett's husband, Kevin, is a self-employed landscaper but has taken time off to help care for the couple's children.
A medical trust fund has been set up at Regions Bank for Hackett to help pay for her medical bills, prescription costs and impending chemotherapy.
Donations, earmarked for the Stephanie Hackett Cancer Medical Fund, can be made at any branch, although it is preferred that contributions be marked for the Furys Ferry Road office where the account was established.
"We already have donations coming in," said Jean Roper, vice president of Regions Bank and manager of the Furys Ferry Road branch. "It's wonderful."
Roper and Hackett became fast friends nearly 10 years ago when Roper joined the chamber, where Roper is currently a member of its board of directors.
"I just became very close with her," Roper said. "Anyone who knows her can't help but love her."
Andy Kingery, the chamber's former interim director, agreed.
"She was just such a good, hard-working individual with a can do attitude," he said.
That attitude is helping Hackett recover from her traumatic surgery and look to the future with hope.
"I am not able to take care of my two boys right now and it's killing me," Hackett said. "I've got to get myself better for my kids, my husband, my friends and family."
"I am ready to defeat the enemy," added Hackett, a member of Journey Community Church. "I know it's God who has gotten me through this. It's been tough, but if I were not a Christian, it would have been tougher. I will conquer this thing."
Additional donation sites are:
Hawg Wild Smokehouse and Ribshack on Flowing Wells Road
Dino's Chicago Express on Furys Ferry Road
Master Pontiac Buick GMC on Washington Road
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