Amanda Hichkad has stage IV cancer that started as cervical cancer in 2008 but spread to her spine, lungs, and liver. She’s been through surgeries, radiation, and 13 rounds of chemotherapy, and she visits doctors several times a week to keep the illness under control.
That’s all in addition to being the mother of three boys: Grayson, Cooper, and Brody.
“Our days are filled with what everyone’s days are filled with,” Amanda said. “There are the doctor appointments but also school projects, sports, and middle school plays.”
Although Amanda lost her ability to run, she still makes an effort to get out of the house and away from the cancer articles on her computer. She makes time for coffee dates to maintain critical relationships with friends.
It was a chance coffee-shop conversation with a stranger that sent the Hichkad family from Bel Air, Md., on an Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat® to New York City in November of 2013. Amanda’s husband, Tejan, had only recently shared his wife’s Caring Bridge page on Facebook when he met an Inheritance of Hope (IoH) board member who told Tejan about the organization’s unique mission of serving young families facing the loss of a parent.
“It sounded like exactly what we needed,” Amanda, said. “It was definitely God’s hand at work.” The Legacy Retreat® was the first time Grayson, Cooper, and Brody had been to New York City, and they had a blast exploring with IoH volunteers.
“They loved the independence and having counselors to hang out with,” Amanda said. “For me, seeing their faces was the best.” The retreat also gave Tejan an opportunity to let his guard down and share common experiences with other caregivers.
IoH volunteers compiled a number of photos for the Hichkads to take home, and Amanda said the pictures help start conversations with the boys about their Legacy Retreat® memories. The Hichkads keep up with the blogs of the families they met in New York, and the boys follow their favorite IoH staff on social media.
“We can’t say enough about the quality of people who volunteer for IoH and made it their mission to help strangers like me have fun so their kids will remember them,” Amanda said. “We still feel like friends.”
Before the retreat Amanda wrote letters of life lessons to each of her boys, and IoH helped her think about the legacy and memories she would like to leave with Grayson, Cooper, and Brody. “These are things that are really imprinted now on our kids, and they’ll remember it after I’m gone,” she said.
In addition to her doctor appointments, the boys’ activities, and visiting friends, Amanda is organizing a race to benefit the local hospital where she received cancer treatments. “Inheritance of Hope made me want to participate in something that gives back,” she said.
Although tumors took her ability to run, Amanda said Tejan is looking to race and support the IoH running team — Team Inheritance of Hope. The Amanda Hichkad Chesapeake Cancer Alliance Celebration Walk is scheduled for May 17.