Angela Hobbs with Family
Angela and daughter
Picture courtesy of Brandy Miller
Marcie & Tim Littleton, Angela's parents
Angela Hobbs was destined to be a hairdresser.
"She was a girly girl," remembers Angela's mother, Marcie Littleton. "She was always primping and liked to play in my make-up.
Marcie says she and Angela were the best of friends.
"We grew up together. She loved to go where I went," says Marcie. "She was always excited when I got home, she'd tell me she loved me. She was very, very loving. Very loving."
Angela was devoted to Marcie and her father, Tim. The family (including Angela's brother, James) lived an ideal life in the Tri-Cities. Things became even better when Angela met the love of her life, Ronnie.
"She had Skylar first with Ronnie," remembers Marcie. "They were crazy, madly in love but she told him that she didn't want to marry him right off the bat because they were going to have a child. They lived together about 2-3 years and he kept asking her to marry him and so she said, 'okay, I'll marry you'. Skylar was her ring bearer. We were really happy that they got married because she had found someone, a soul mate. They always got along really good and they had Kendall later on."
Angela helped support her young family by becoming a hairdresser in Johnson City, Tennessee.
"Angela always practiced on me. I told her she was keeping me young," laughs Marcie. "She was one of those people, if someone came in with a problem, they would tell Angela and she got in that mood, she was so caring. Their business grew overnight and that first year, they won the Tri-Cities' Best Hair Salon".
With her personal and professional life thriving, Angela and her family started making a home in the farmhouse belonging to her father's family.
"They fixed it in 2003, because it was not liveable. They put up siding and put down wooden floors. She made it look good. There was always hoopla going on (in the house). You have a 10-year-old and 5-year-old and you can imagine the madness. We'd have a good time here and sit on the porch and have cookouts and go jump on the trampoline or lay out in the sun. We had the best time."
But all of this changed suddenly on New Year's Day in 2009.
"She seemed to always have a problem with her stomach hurting. She'd say 'I feel sick'. She went to the doctor and had her normal check-ups and she'd always say that her stomach is hurting. I remember the night she called and said 'mom can you come watch the children, I'm going to have Ronnie take me to the hospital, I can't stand up straight'. She had to have him carry her to the car. This was on New Year's Eve. I went down and stayed with the kids and we thought, 'well, she's got a stomach virus'. That's exactly what we thought she had."
Sadly, the diagnosis was more serious: a C.A.T. scan found that Angela had a tumor and further testing revealed she had colon cancer.
"I remember the doctor saying, 'if you're going to have cancer, you have the good one.' She (Angela) was okay with that, we were all okay because it means it's "fixable".
But the high hopes of the family were dashed in an instant once the tests were read by someone else and it was discovered that 35-year-old Angela Hobbs had Stage 4 colon cancer.
"Angela sat there and didn't say much," remembers Marcie. "I lost it and Ronnie lost it and Angela said 'I don't know what you're crying about, we're going to beat this. I'm going to beat this'. She asked the doctor 'Is this something I can survive?' and she (the doctor) said "it's going to be a hard road but it's up to you if you make it'. So Angela said 'okay, we're going to make it'. Even after that day, her quality of life just went down."
Angela tried to resume life as normal as possible for her family and herself. Even though she wasn't able to work, she'd go back to her salon and visit with her customers.
"After it kind of settled in she said 'mom, you know what, I'm not sad, I'm just really hurt that I won't see Skylar drive his first car or Kendall graduate from high school or see her on her first date. She started understanding just how bad it was. She protected the children, told them it was going to be all right and I know there were so many times that Ronnie and I would cry or Tim would cry with me."
Angela endured grueling months of chemotherapy treatments.
"The first one was a type of radiation and chemo and it made her mouth really dry and her feet and hands hurt. She couldn't drink anything cold. It was really hard on her. She couldn't eat anything they had her on so many meds. They changed her chemo and it helped. She loved milkshakes and anything cold. It made her throw up and nothing was staying down."
As part of her treatments, Angela's hair started falling out.
"That was the worst thing that could happen," remembers Marcie. "Then she just accepted she was bald. That was hard for a beautician. She had Brandy (co-owner of her salon) shave it off. She was fine until it all got off and ended up calling me crying saying 'mom, I've lost all my hair' and Tim said 'don't worry about it, I'll shave my hair too' and she said 'that's not fair, most of your hair is already gone anyway'."
Angela and her husband traveled to Nashville for treatments at Vanderbilt, and she was told she would have to come for more treatments, which caused her to worry about their finances. One day while receiving treatments at McLeod Regional Medical Center in Elizabethton, one of the nurses gave Angela a gift that would change everyone's lives.
"She came home crying and said 'you're not going to believe it, one of the nurses at McLeod want Ronnie and me to use their condo and it's fully furnished. She gave me money and said for us to enjoy the town," remembers Marcie. "No matter how sick she got, she always talked about wanting to help someone else. Everything that somebody did for her, touched her after that. I remember she would always tell me that she loved me but she started telling me when she was hugging me she'd say 'mom, I love you very, very, very much' and I said 'I love you very much' and she'd say 'no mom, you don't know because I won't be here to tell you and I want you to know how much you mean to me'."
Angela Hobbs lost her battle with colon cancer on March 13, 2011, she was only 37 years old.
After her death, her husband moved the family out of the family's home so they could be closer to his relatives. Angela's beloved house stood empty. Her parents were left to grieve over their daughter.
"I thought 'we can do something with her memory, she can live on forever' and we wanted to her too," remembers Marcie. "I said 'what do you think about us fixing the farmhouse up for people to stay so they can get well?'"
With that idea, Angela's Cottage of Hope was born. Tim & Marcie began a soft renovation of the home to get it ready for patients and their families to stay there while they received treatments in the area-free of charge.
"Our hope is that people will come here and take their treatments and not have to worry about anything. We want to make their lives more comfortable, more peaceful while they're getting treatment. That's what Angela wanted for them. This is just a way to follow through with her dream."
Currently, the Littleton's are working out the fine details in order to open Angela's Cottage of Hope. Patients who are being treated in the Mountain State Health Alliances in the Tri-Cities Region will stay there.
For more information call the Regional Cancer Center in Johnson City at (423) 232-6900.
A trust fund for Angela's children is set up at the Johnson City Federal Credit Union c/o Skylar & Kendall Hobbs Trust Fund.