Cancer Tree wins Hurlock’s Festival of Trees and Wreaths

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Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz Kathy Humphries with her grandson Jace Andrews.

HURLOCK — All proceeds from the tree and wreath auction, this year a record $6,000, will benefit North Dorchester citizens. The money went to the Hurlock Police Department to purchase gifts for children and families whose names were suggested by the town’s elementary school. The school provides names, ages, sizes, and wish lists.

The $300 first prize and $200 second prize were won by Kathy Humphries. Jessica Minton took a $100 3rd prize. Ms. Humphries also took first and third prizes for her decorated wreaths with second prize garnered by Susan Dukes.

Ms. Humphries called her first place winner a “Cancer Tree.” In 1988 her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. After surgery, her mom “went through chemo and radiation. Everything looked positive,” she says. “Six years ago we were told she had a tumor in the spine and she only had two weeks to live.” She again undertook chemo and radiation, and according to Ms. Humphries, “Everything looked great. But the tumor . . . now has gone into the bone and the liver.”

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This tree by Ms. Humphries, named the “Cancer Tree,” won first place in this year’s Hurlock Christmas tree decorating contest.

 

There’s something special about Kathy Humphries. She has faith; she has hope; and, she has passion. Last year she needed money to help fix her mom’s van. Without really knowing where the money would come from, she entered a tree in the Hurlock tree and wreath decorating contest. She named it “Glimmer of Hope.” She won third place and enough prize money to fix the van. “This year,” she says, “my mom didn’t have enough money for heating oil. I won enough money to fill my mother’s oil drum. I started to cry because God is looking out for me and my mom.”

After deciding last year to create a “cancer tree” to honor her mother this year, she bought a clearance Christmas tree, stored it in her shed, and this fall entered the 2014 Hurlock Tree Decorating Contest. She covered it with silver ornaments, pink ribbons, tiny boxing gloves, bulbs and lights.

For the past year Hurlock has supported 5-year-old cancer patient Emma Ross and her family with fundraising events and love. Emma is known locally as Hurlock’s Little Princess. Ms. Humphries explains, “I already knew I wanted Little Miss Emma on the tree.” She added two women, who are also battling cancer, to the tree and put photographs of each in clear snowman bulbs. She created tiny, pink earmuffs around each bulb.

“I’m trying to come up with an idea for next year,” she says. “I want everyone to know that you don’t have to put a lot of money into these trees to enter this contest. If you have a creative idea, go with it. It’s just hope and an idea and passion for doing it.”

Passion is something this remarkable woman knows about. Her calling is caring for the terminally ill and she is passionate about it. She cared for a young woman who passed away in March and a classmate who passed away in June. “My passion is to make them as happy as I can before they leave here and I don’t ask for anything in return.” With her voice breaking in an attempt to contain her emotion, she says, “What I get out of it is making sure they are happy before they leave here. That’s my mission.

“I believe it’s from above. No matter how much it has hurt me to watch my classmates leave I believe that God has given me that gift to give them a better outcome. I’m hurt watching them leave but just knowing that they know I’m there makes a difference.” Her classmate had no family here. She explains, “His mom left a day before he died, so I crawled in next to him and hugged him the day before he died. I saw the expression on his face, knowing that he knew someone cared for him.”

“So many people suffer from cancer and so many of my classmates are passing away from it. If any of them need me to take care of them I am willing to do it for nothing. I feel like God put me here for a purpose.” She thinks she had a premonition after seeing a young woman suffer and decided she did not want anyone suffering alone any more. “I wanted to be there to help. I think it helps to know someone else is there who cares; and holding their hand and letting them know they are loved.”

She explains she experiences the hurt and the pain “that they do, and I go through the grieving, too. But that’s okay. They need me. As soon as I know someone needs me I pack up my air bed, take it to their house and camp out day and night. I go with hospice and am there at the end. When it’s over I come home.” She returns to her family secure in her faith that God loves her and confident that she is fulfilling a mission set out for her many years ago.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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