ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — For over twenty years, Angie Bowden has worked in the pharmacy at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
On Wednesday, April 22, the hospital that was Bowden’s office became her home away from home, after she was diagnosed with Leukemia.
“It’s not real; it just doesn’t seem real,” said Spencer Pittman, Bowden’s nephew, reliving the night when he heard the news.
It didn’t take long for Pittman and his friend John Donner to start brainstorming on how they could show their support for Bowden and her fight against cancer.
“He (Donner) was, like, ‘Hey! Let’s set up a cruise for your aunt Angie, raise a little bit of money to help out, show her that we can actually do something.’ One thing led to another, ideas came and came,” said Pittman.
In a little more than a week’s time, to Pittman and Donner’s surprise, more than 100 friends, family, and strangers showed up for the cruise line.
The first group gathered and headed out from Liberty Lake park in Bedford, where Bowden is from, and made a stop at the Sam’s Club parking lot in Roanoke to pick up more drivers interested in joining.
“It’s been very humbling that… how much they love her an this community loves her,” said Jason Whalen, Bowden’s fiancé.
Whalen hasn’t been able to see Bowden since Monday because of Coronavirus precations.
“I’m a selfish one because I want to be with her, but you know, we all have each other to lean on,” he said.
Once the group was together, they made their way to the hospital, honking horns and revving engines with Bowden watching it all from her room.
“She’s mixed medicine for people in this community who had cancer and illness,” Whalen said. “And now, you know, this is our way of saying thank you and paying it forward back to her.”
“We kind of come together as one family,” said Donner. “We’re all here for each other. That’s just what we like to do, you know. If one is down the others are there to pick ’em back up.”
Whalen says that Bowden has, so far, responded well to her chemotherapy. She isn’t out of the woods just yet, but it’s clear she has the support system to help her through this journey.
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