Team, family help Stephens swimmer deal with mother's cancer

Saturday, March 14, 2009 | 7:21 p.m. CDT; updated 12:24 a.m. CDT, Sunday, March 15, 2009
Stephens swimmer Emily Younghouse, right, and her mother Susan Younghouse, who has been diagnosed with lymphoma.

COLUMBIA – Emily Younghouse, a member of the Stephens College swim team, was dropped off in front of Barnes Jewish- St. Louis Hospital last weekend when she was competing in the National Swimming Championships in nearby St. Peters. She wanted to visit her mom, Susan Younghouse, 57, who is undergoing chemotherapy to battle her cancer.  

Emily Younghouse, was overjoyed when she walked in the front door of the hospital. Tears of joy rolled down both Emily Younghouse and her mom’s checks as they saw each other for only the second time since Susan Younghouse was diagnosed in January of this year.

“We had been anticipating seeing each other for a while, so seeing her was really exciting and much needed,” Emily Younghouse said.

Younghouse and her mom have a close relationship. Younghouse considers the moment when she gets to hear her mom’s voice on the phone or when she reads a text message from her to be the highlight of her day.

Younghouse also said she loves to bug her mom by text messaging her around three times a day or by calling her a couple times on the phone.

Younghouse enjoys talking about everything that goes on in her days with her mom, which includes everything from how her mom is feeling to how Younghouse is doing in school.

“I just love to chit-chat with her, even though we used to do that all the time, I appreciate it and cherish it so much more now,” Younghouse said.

While walking home from tanning with a good friend, Younghouse received a phone call from her older brother and found out her mother had been diagnosed with lymphoma.

“I was in a little bit of shock at first, then I started crying and asking questions,” said Younghouse describing her reaction to receiving the news of her mom’s diagnosis.

Since her mom’s diagnosis in January, Emily Younghouse has tried to stay strong for her family and herself but admits there have been some hard times.

“I’m fine throughout the days, but sometimes when I lay down for bed I think about the bad what-ifs and sometimes I get scared to death of what might happen.”

Younghouse knows that she can always count on support from her family. She is close to her brothers and they have been a great help to her during this time. Her father, Fred Younghouse, has been the rock of the family and is there for her when she needs him.

“My dad is the best guy in the world.  He has done everything for my mom and then some.  He is always assuring me everything will be fine,” Younghouse said of her father.

Younghouse's family is not her only form of support. She also has her swim team who is there for her too. Two other mothers of swimmers on the team are battling cancer as well.

Younghouse lived with teammate Jenna Alander last year when Alander’s mom was going through cancer treatment.

“I look back at certain times last year and think about how Jenna handled it and how she got through it,” Younghouse said of her time living with Alander.

Younghouse's swim coach, Laura Wacker, has also been there whenever she needs to talk. Wacker has known the Younghouse family for around 23 years. Wacker said she feels the stress Younghouse was going through made it hard for her and sometimes she felt like she seemed to be giving up.

“We talked about focusing on the things that she can control and doing her part to keep things positive.  It wouldn’t help her mom out if she went into a depression and she knew that,” Wacker said.

“Laura has been friends with my family for years and has talked to my family and I through all of this and has been very supportive,” Younghouse said of Wacker.

Younghouse says her mom has been nothing but strong and positive throughout everything and is an inspiration to her. Her mom didn't care that she was going to lose all her hair, she just wanted her 'insides to be healthy.'"

"She is still the same amazing woman that she was before she was diagnosed," Younghouse said. "We still chat and laugh all of the time, maybe even more now.”

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