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Faces of Blue: Paulette Duggins

By June 8, 2021Faces of Blue

  My name is Paulette, and I am a mother, grandmother, caregiver, and advocate for Colon Cancer Awareness. My journey with colon cancer began alongside my daughter Angel, in July 2017 when she was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer at the young, vibrant age of 29. Her diagnosis came as quite a shock, without warning, and without any obvious signs or symptoms. It was the most devastating news our family had ever received. Yet, once we got over the initial shock and painful reality, Angel, along with myself, her twin, her siblings, and the rest of our family began to trust in our faith in God to see us through. Angel had no doubt from that day forward that she would overcome, regardless of how bad it sounded at the time. She began her journey of chemotherapy treatments starting in August of 2017. She received most of her care and chemotherapy treatments at Novant Oncology in Kernersville, North Carolina. She also received additional treatments at UNC-Chapel Hill and NIH in Maryland.  

Angel was a devoted daughter, an irreplaceable twin, a dedicated sister, a loving aunt, granddaughter, niece, cousin, coworker, and friend. She had a beautiful smile that perfectly mirrored her beautiful heart. Angel was loving, caring, compassionate, and had a true giving spirit. Her favorite pastime was spending time with her family. She loved all of her siblings dearly and had a unique bond with each of them. She had an extra special, unbreakable and forever bond with her twin brother Tony. They were inseparable their entire lives; going off to college together and even purchasing their first home together. She was his backbone, his best friend, his confidante, and his biggest supporter, and he was her protector. She excitedly became a first-time aunt in 2018, approximately 7 months after her diagnosis. By 2020, she was blessed to be an aunt to a total of 5 nieces and nephews and they all added much joy, excitement, and happiness to her life. She enjoyed planning their baby showers, birthday parties, showering them with gifts, and especially purchasing unique cakes for their various events. 

During her journey with cancer, Angel continued to live up to her divinely inspired name. She continued to reach out & offer financial & emotional support to family & friends who were in need, despite her own needs. She passionately continued to plan & attend family events, especially for her beloved nieces & nephews. 

Becoming a Caregiver and starting the Angelic Warrior Foundation

Although Angel continued to work on her off weeks of chemotherapy, I moved in and became her full-time caregiver. My role as caregiver was important because she required assistance with both healthy meal prep and encouragement to eat, even when she didn’t feel like it. It was also important because as a caregiver I was able to accompany her to her appointments, take both mental and written notes, ask questions, and be with her when side effects kicked in, etc. I was also her driver, her med assistant, her comforter, her supporter, her encourager, her riding partner, her movie watching partner, her spokesperson when she didn’t want to talk or deal with issues, and so much more. The list goes on and on. And I didn’t do this alone. Her twin brother was also her caregiver doing all the same things that I did in addition to being the provider and the backbone financially when we both couldn’t work. Her other siblings also pitched in and took turns assisting when their schedules allowed.

My whole point in mentioning this is that Angel, as the patient diagnosed with colon cancer, did not experience her journey alone. From the day she first got diagnosed, we as caregivers and family members who loved her dearly, were right by her side every step of the way. We shared her disappointments, her joys, her miracle moments, her expectations, her highs and her lows, the good news and the not so good news, the days of laughter, the days of many side effects, any and everything she experienced along the way on her cancer journey; we as her caregivers experienced also. Thus, this is the reason that caregivers are included in the mission of the Angelic Warrior Foundation in which we strive to provide support for patients, caregivers, and families. 

This nonprofit is designed to help patients who do not have medical insurance & those who do not have the emotional & familial support that Angel was so grateful to have. Our family now vows to carry out her wishes to help other patients, caregivers, and families through Angel’s legacy.

I want to share my colorectal cancer journey story because I want people to know and understand that it is a journey that affects many people (from patients to caregivers, to families & friends) in so many ways, and in depths that are inconceivable and sometimes unexplainable. As a caregiver and now as an advocate, I want to share the message of hope, survival, thriving, and supporting, to everyone that I meet. 

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