Love Of Family Kept Mt. Airy Cancer Victim Battling To End

December 16, 1990|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff writer

MOUNT AIRY - More than anything, Susan G. Hornick wanted to live for her children, to see them through their growing years.

That wish gave her the will to fight against cancer for nearly two years.

At 4:45 p.m. Monday, though, the 33-year-old mother of Danny, 12, and Ashley, 5, lost her battle.

"Her body just gave out on her," said her friend, Cathy Davis. "She fought so hard to be here with those kids. She was so involved in all they did."

Carol C. Yocum, Hornick's friend and pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church, echoed those sentiments.

"Susan's primary job was her family," said Yocum. "She had determination and will to live for their sakes."

Davis recalled an afternoon when doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore told Hornick they had exhausted all possible treatment options.

"When she came home, she found Ashley's school picture and held on to it, sobbing, not for herself but for her baby," said Davis.

Since she was diagnosed with acute myelocytic leukemia in March 1989, Hornick defied several medical predictions. She knew her time was limited, however, and she prepared for her death, said her pastor.

When the doctors said she had only a few months to live, she wrote letters to both children and had her picture taken, while she still looked well. She wanted them to remember her.

"She was very honest with the children and never hid anything from them," said Davis.

Davis, who often baby-sat and ran errands for her friend, recently took Hornick shopping for Ashley's and Danny's Christmas presents.

"We spent a lot of time finding something special," said Davis. "She asked her husband to wait until Christmas to give the things to the children."

The couple's faith remained strong, Yocum added. They both were part of the prayer and health team at Calvary United Methodist. They often attended the church's weekly healing services, which they helped to start.

"Brian was 100 percent for Susan," she said. "He was so supportive."

The couple also had a brief respite from their ordeal last February, when Brian won a trip and took his wife to Hawaii.

Brian said he is so grateful for the support the community has offered his family. Various organizations pulled together and raised about $90,000, hoping to pay for a bone marrow transplant -- a last-chance effort. Susan never regained enough strength to withstand the surgery, however.

The money will be used to defray some of the $300,000 in medical bills the family has incurred, Brian said.

"We both appreciated everything everyone did for us," said Brian. "This community reached out to us and did so much for us."

Brian, his father, and Yocum all were with Susan when she died at Hopkins.

"She was a fighter until the end," said Brian. "But she was at peace and ready to go."

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