PIQUA — A Piqua mom will be recognized during Friday night’s home football game in honor of her battle against cancer.
Stephany King, mother of Piqua High School sophomore and varsity football player Max King, was first diagnosed with stage II pancreatic cancer in November 2016.
T-shirts, donned with “#STEPHANYSTRONG” will be sold throughout this week at PHS, both during lunch and in the main office, while supplies last. Those who purchase shirts are encouraged to wear them to Friday’s game. In addition to buying shirts, donations may be made to Hospice of Miami County via cash and check.
Between the first and second quarter of the game, friends and family of King are also encouraged to take to the field in a show of support for her. During this time, all T-shirt proceeds and donations will be presented in the form of a check to Hospice of Miami County.
Piqua Athletic Director Chip Hare said the idea to honor King was an easy one to make.
“It’s a privilege for Piqua City Schools to honor Stephany for her courageous battle and her great attitude that she’s had throughout this time,” Hare said. “We are very proud and happy to have Max as part of our family and to be able to honor his mother during this period of his life.”
Previously of Fort Loramie, King and her three children, Kyle, Kennedy and Max, moved to Piqua just three years ago.
After her 2016 diagnosis, King said she soon underwent Whipple surgery, a complex procedure used to treat tumors and other disorders of the pancreas. After recovering from the operation, King completed 12 rounds of chemo, followed by a month of daily radiation.
According to King, she was in remission for about a year and a half before receiving news that the cancer had returned in January of this year, prompting further chemo treatment. However, this round of treatment was even harder on King.
“I started developing a lot of stomach and abdominal pain, along with muscular pain in my back, and was finally just like, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” she said. “The chemo was extremely hard on me and at some point I was thinking I didn’t even want to continue on with it because it was not working and it was the strongest chemo that there is possible.”
It was around this time, King said, that her neighbor, who happened to be a hospice nurse, recommended she make a call to Hospice of Miami County.
“I was terrified,” King said. “I was like, ‘What are you saying? Why are you saying this to me?’ I was kind of offended and she said, ‘Stephany, you don’t realize what we do.’“
Despite her fear, King made the call, and is now glad she did.
“Of course when people hear the word ‘hospice’ they completely freak out and think, ‘Oh my god, she’s on her death bed,’ and that is not the case whatsoever at all,” she said. “Basically, I’m in hospice care at this point for pain management. They’re there for me 24/7 and if I need them to come out, they come and assess me, whether it’s 3 in the afternoon or 3 a.m.”
King, who recently returned from a week-long vacation with family thanks to support from hospice, is currently focused on spending more quality time with loved ones. As of now, her cancer is not widespread and is located within two lymph nodes. She plans to revisit her doctor in the near future and will then consider her options in terms of further treatment.
“It is hard to talk about all of this, but it has gotten easier,” she said. “If I can help just one person and get them the knowledge they need about hospice, how great they are, and all the other services they offer aside from the stigma that goes along with the name, I’m willing to talk about it.
“It’s not like I’m not up and moving and maintaining my life,” she continued. “I am, and that’s what hospice is there for — quality over quantity — and they do a wonderful job at it.”
King said she is also appreciative of the community rallying to support her.
“I’m overwhelmed and grateful for everyone’s generosity,” she said. “My family and I appreciate it so much.”