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Samantha's Marathon for Life


This is the real life story of Samantha's Marathon for Life. This is the story of her ongoing battle to not just survive her cancer, but live the way she was destined to live. Cancer was just the beginning of what has become a daily battle to live. The day she ended her cancer treatment was the first day of her ongoing severe and life threatening health conditions that are left in the wake of her clinical trial for her cancer treatment. It was February 8, 2002 when our lives forever changed.

Samantha was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia / lymphoma

Seven years later, she is still fighting the battle of the severe health problems from her 3-year cancer treatment. We won't know for a long time if she has won the war, but she is on her way. Samantha has been so brave. She has shown so much courage and strength. Our lives have been enriched by this disease which invaded so rudely into our lives over seven years ago. We have learned quickly how important a hug, a kiss, the smell of ones skin and the sound of a heart beat truly is. We no longer take for granted the simple pleasures in life. We laugh more, we cry more, and we love more. She has become a beautiful young lady.
When she started this journey of having cancer she was only 9 years old. Now, Sammie is 17, and graduated High School in June of 2010. When she is feeling good, she goes until her body won't let her go anymore. We can never tell her to just take it easy. She always wants to be on the go and hang out with her friends or family. She understands that life doesn't give you do'overs, so she makes every moment count. She is our hero.

Samantha is one of six children. We have a large family. Her oldest brother Ethan is serving in the Army and has completed his tour in Iraq for 15 months.He is currently stationed in Germany and got married on April 10, 2010. Sammie gained a beautiful sister in-law who serves in the US Army reserves. Her name is Amanda. Bradley, her second oldest brother, enlisted in the Army and shipped out for basic training for the Army on June 29, 2009.In November he returned home with a medical discharge.He is currently enrolled in college for his AS degree and attending classes to become an EMT. Christian is 18 and graduated high school from Pioneer High School June 4, 2010.He is also going to college to become an EMT. Sammieís little sister Jessica is in the 10th grade and is the BIG sophomore in high school at Woodland High School. Her little brother Corey is in the 9th grade at Woodland High School.Samantha graduated high school on June 4, 2010 from Pioneer High School. Our household is very full and we couldn't imagine it any other way.
We have lots of family and friends here in Woodland and spread out across this Nation. We couldn't be more thankful for their support and love. We are blessed!

As most of you know, and for those of you who have followed Sammieís journey, you know that Samantha has faced many serious short and long term effects from her 3 - year cancer treatment. If you are new to her page and her journey, the last couple years have brought many challenges to her health. Through treatment, and from one of the 15 different chemotherapy drugs that she had to have, it brought about a heart condition called Prolonged QT syndrome. Then, she was diagnosed with another heart condition called Premature Ventricular Complex. Then, to make matters even more challenging, she was diagnosed with another heart condition that is called Neurocardiogenic Syncope. In laymen terms it means that any time she get up, moves around or gets active the nervous system in her spinal cord sends a signal to her brain and then to her heart to slow down. When this occurs, her third heart beat (premature ventricular complex) fires up and causes severe chest pain. When this pain begins, within moments she can, and has passed out and is unconscious. This has proven to be a continuous challenge for her physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When she asks why survival from her first round of cancer treatment is like this, we honestly have no answers. She is now being treated by the eight different specialists at UC San Francisco. These doctors are her primary doctors of care because her health issues are severe and complex in nature. She has developed a condition called Sweet's Syndrome. They have discovered the Neutrophils in her stem cells are not healthy and not developing correctly. Due to this very rare condition within her body she is now on chemotherapy once a week. For Samantha, she looses 3 out of 7 days a week because of the different side effects that are brought on from the chemo. Through many tests that were performed they have also discovered that she has elevated CSF pressure in the brain as well as vascular inflammation in the brain. This causes pain on a daily basis that has no cure. In December of 2008, Samantha started to have seizures that resulted in her getting hurt more than just a couple of times. She is unaware of when they come on so from any position, at any time, and anywhere, she can fall. Samantha has also suffered concussions as a result of her falling while having a seizure on a hard surface. Of all the things that are going on with her health, this one to date is the most challenging.
These a-typical seizures will happen at any time of the day or night. She tries each day to make it a good day. Some days are better than others.

With all the ongoing changes in her health, we update her journal as we know what is going on. No child at any age should have to go through what Sammie is going through. She handles it with grace and with such bravery. We hope that her life will inspire you to love more, hug more, dance when no one is watching, and live life as if you won't get tomorrow.


2002: Diagnosed with T-Cell leukemia and lymphoma
2003: Diagnosed with Prolong QT Syndrome
2002: Total reconstruction of her left foot due to a chemical burn while on kidney dialysis.
2002-2004 Had 13 different chemotherapy medications.
2003: Cranial Radiation for two weeks
2004: Reached remission for her cancer
2005: Severe headaches began
2006: Still struggling to be healthy. Many kidney infections and being sick from other infections and viruses.
2007: Diagnosed with Premature Ventricular Complex heart condition
2007: Diagnosed with intractible migraines (most severe)
2008: Diagnosed with an elevated CNS pressure in her spinal cord
2008: Diagnosed with a-typical seizures
2009: Diagnosed with the beginning stages of congestive heart failure
2009: Diagnosed with Sweet's Syndrome
2009: Restart weekly chemotherapy drug that keeps her cells from growing too fast and to keep what cells she has an opportunity to grow the way they are designed to grow.
2009: Started passing out and becoming unconscious due to her heart not beating correctly and her blood pressure dropping
2010: Irritable Bowl Disease and Gastritis.

Please take a moment and sign her guestbook. She enjoys seeing who has stopped by to visit her web page.
Please check back to see what is going on in her crazy and fun life.
Blessings to you and your family!


We were so pleased to announce the release of Sammie and her dad's childrenís book. The date of the release was August 19, 2004. There was a book-signing event at Cook Childrenís Hospital with Kidd Kraddick in the Morning for KIDDKIDS. The time of the event was at 1:00pm. All proceeds from the sales of the books went to KIDDSKIDS. Sammie wanted to "pay it forward" and make a difference in another childís life. The book is entitled, "Too Pooped To Pop". Many of the illustrations that are in the book were painted by her dad while she was in the hospital getting chemotherapy. If you would like to know more about KIDDSKIDS, click here. Thank you to all of you who came out to support KIDDSKIDS.

Here are some of the reviews and comments from those who have received the book.

What a wonderful job! Great art, great story, great message!
Terry Josephson
Julianna Banana's dad
Winnipeg, Canada

I want you to know that I read your book with Scarlett more than one time everyday. We love it!
Lana Cowan
Scarlett Cowan's mom
Birmingham, AL.

This is the funniest and cutest book on leukemia. I haven't seen anything better. They loved it! Steve and Sammy have done a great job in putting joy and humor on this situation.
Mom to Ariel (11), Keegan (5), Liam (4)
Littleton, CO.

What a terrific job! Sam and Steve did a wonderful job. I am so thankful to have a book at my daughters level to explain to her what is going on a little better. Thank you.
Keli Deryck
Canal Fulton, CO.

Wow! My kids loved the book and we've all enjoyed reading the great story. Kendrie keeps saying "that girl has cancer? just like me????" and pointing to the cute pictures. Tell Sammy how proud she should be of herself (Dad, too!). They've created something that lots of people will enjoy, and which will be a benefit to many.
Kendrie's mom

What a wonderful book!!!!! Thank you so much. Big kudos to Steven and Samantha for doing such a great job!!!!
Katie's mom
North Wales, Pennsylvania

Cody said that he liked the part where Samantha cut her hair and laughed-It's the part he'd probably do to himself and wait for me to pass out. Gotta love that shock value! We also loaned the book to our "neighbor" on the unit this last week when Cody was impatient. Marcos is the almost-5 year old that was diagnosed with Hodgkinís 2 weeks ago. I think he'd look like the part of the crowd with Tony, Sam, and Mocha as he was cruising the halls adding some mischief to an otherwise dour place.
Tell Sammy we love the book!!
Cody's mom
Los Alamos New Mexico



Help us help Sammie. Here is your chance to make a difference in helping with her on going HIGH costs of medical treatments. Most people believe that because we have private health insurance that it covers everything. I will say that it does cover the tens of thousands of dollars in regards to her complex medical conditions. However, it doesn't cover the hundreds of dollars in co-pays for her appointments, the co-pays for her medecines that she takes every day and it also doesn't cover the gas to and from San Francisco, the lodging while we are there, or the food that we have to purchase. These expenses can be overwhelming.No matter how little or how much, every bit will make a difference. Click on the button below.
Thank you!
Troy, Duffy, Bradley, Christian, Jessica, Corey and our daughter Sammie

So welcome to your life + cancer; where remission is not a cure and survivorship is all that matters. Now get busy living!

The Strength of an Egg

Parents of children with cancer, or really any serious condition, are often referred to or viewed as having strength "like a rock." Albeit flattering, it isn't quite true. It is more like the strength of an egg. An egg, you ask? Yes, an egg. If you think about an egg, you will see the point I make.

An egg has a polished smooth outer appearance with no cracks or weak spots visible. It seems almost inconceivable that the inside might not be as smooth and solid as the outside. Most children, at some point in their lifetime, are shown the famous egg trick. An egg set at just the right angle can withstand enormous amounts of pressure and cannot be cracked or broken. Yet that same egg, tapped gently at an even slightly different angle will break. The contents, once so neatly concealed inside, will come spilling out, and the no longer perfect shell will be crushed. Then the shell looks so fragile that it seems inconceivable that it ever held any strength.

That is where parents of children with cancer are more like eggs than rocks. A rock is solid all the way through. If you tried to break a rock, it would be almost impossible. If successful, one would find that there was nothing inside but more rock. It takes a lot more than pure hardness to hold the hand of hope. These parents are not solid all the way through. They hurt, they fear, they cry, they hope. It takes a very careful balancing act to keep the shell from being shattered.

Balancing an egg while running a household, going for doctor visits and hospital stays, keeping the family together, and holding on to the constantly unraveling ties of your sanity can be very tricky indeed. Occasionally, the angle will be off and the shell will break, shattering hope and the neatly secured appearances of a truly fragile existence. Unlike Humpty Dumpty, though, parents of kids with cancer will pick themselves up and put themselves back together again.

by Juliet Freitag

Lately I've been winning battles left and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I'm amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don't see inside of me
I'm hiding all the tears

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Unafraid because His armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I'm amazing
Never face retreat
But they don't see the enemies
That lay me at His feet

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
the warrior is a child

A Poem written by Samantha. A shared battle with her two oldest brothers. Enjoy!

Cancer/Army Strong

She doesnít wear a camo uniform
Though everyday she wakes up in a storm
She doesnít carry a gun or get around in a tank
A strong person, but carries no five star rank
Her chemo is deadly as a bullet to the heart
The needles will cause her to be forever marked
She didnít sign up for this or choose this path
But never stops smiling and never forgets to laugh
Her body is invaded with death trying to take over
Fighting to stay strong like a game of Red Rover
Instead of combat boots, she wears hospital socks
The pain inside is like getting hit by one million rocks
Doctors devise a plan to save her precious life
While people in war, fight for our rights
She takes many painful hits from all different angles
No matter what, she is still herself and precious as an angel
There are no push-ups or running one hundred miles
But her body works just as hard going through clinical trials
She does not live in barracks, but rarely home
The treacherous but helpful hospital is where she roams
Sergeants are not in charge, instead her doctors are
Not in foreign countries, but travels very far
No official unit, only a group of friends together
She will also have the good and bad memories forever
Her heart remembers the fallen friends along the way
Though she is sick, she tries everything day by day
She was not sworn in to go active or reserve
This is not something she wanted, nor deserved
Her weak moments exist even though she is strong
Itís not something she wants, and itís twisted wrong
Even though she canít change the war, she still fights
In the end, it will be okay and things will be alright
She is a cancer soldier fighting with everything she has got
Cancer Strong, fighting the repercussions of what she has fought

Written by Sammie on March 22,2009


Saturday, January 8, 2011 8:16 PM CST

On the anniversary of Samantha being diagnosed with cancer 9 years ago, we have created a NEW and IMPROVED Caringbridge page!

Follow us to her NEW page and her ongoing journey.....

CLICK the LINK below and BOOKMARK it in your favorites!


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Hospital Information:

UC San Francisco Childrens Hospital
400 Parnasas Avenue
San Francisco CA.


http://www.kiddskids.com   Disney World
http://quiltsoflove.com/quilt_2004/samanthaP/samanthaP.html   Sammy's Quilt of Love
http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sammiehartsfield   Samantha Hartsfield


E-mail Author: troynduffy@yahoo.com


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Note: The foregoing information was authored by the patient, parent or guardian, or other parties who are solely responsible for the content. Such announcements or their content are not necessarily endorsed by CaringBridge, Inc. or any sponsoring agent.  This information does not confirm that anyone is or was actually a patient at any facility.
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