A pediatric patient at 38: Cancer survivor turns activist
In 2018 at 38 years old, Libby Mongue ran her first relay race from Mount Hood to the Oregon Coast last year, raising almost $30,000 for the American Cancer Society's Fighting Cancer to the Coast event with a group of family and friends. She’s come a long way from December of 2000, when she first discovered symptoms that eventually led to her diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, stage two.
After her treatment paused her college career, she transferred schools from Clark College to Washington State University. She now works for a local, full-service mechanical contractor.
Mongue wrote about her experience several years ago:
“I began feeling a funny gurgling in my throat, really itchy skin, extreme tiredness and horrible hiccups. I was 20 years old. My mom and I both thought maybe I had mono, so with a little prodding from her, I went to see a doctor. This led to a CAT scan, more tests and bad news … I had officially become a cancer patient.”
Mongue says she had four cycles of chemo, was hospitalized three times and dropped 30 pounds during her treatment.
“I know every time I got hospitalized, I scared everyone. I didn't know it at the time, but my sister would just sit and watch me sleep to make sure I kept breathing,” she wrote.
Mongue says because she was treated in the pediatric oncology department, she says she was surrounded by the positive energy of little kids who many not have realized how sick they were. “Hanging out with little kids” helped her stay positive during her treatment.
Over the years, she’s seen the construction of the Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel, where she now comes for her annual screening with her pediatric oncologist, Janice Olson, M.D., and Legacy Salmon Creek, on her side of the Columbia River.
As a patient for nearly 20 years, she may be the oldest pediatric patient at Randall. She’ll continue to come yearly for screenings.
In the meantime, she’s busy fundraising for the American Cancer Society and working as a grassroots advocate for the ACS Cancer Action Network. She's volunteered to help push for legislation changing the tobacco sales to those under 21 in Oregon last year. She’s working on an effort to pass a similar law in Washington state in the coming year. She was recently featured in an article about her activism by the Portland Tribune.
Her love of kids was only slightly diminished after working in a pediatric office for 10 years. She cherishes being a good auntie to her niece.
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