Young mom diagnosed with colon cancer, given just weeks to live

Pictured: Joy and Kevin
Pictured: Joy and Kevin

BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C.—When you think of colon cancer, you tend to think of it as something people in their 60’s or older are at risk for. However, that is not always the case.  At just 29-years-old, Joy O’Connell was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer early last year.

“She’s a registered nurse, so she knows her body and how her body is supposed to function. She knew something was a little off, but she used to always push it off on just being tired, working too hard and being a mom,” said Laura Geiger Caddell, a family friend.

According to Colon Cancer Alliance, colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the U.S. The American Cancer Society estimates 136,830 people will be diagnosed in 2014 and 50,310 will die from colon cancer in the United States.

“She didn’t have very many symptoms, and you don’t have very many symptoms when it comes to colon cancer,” she said.

Pictured: Joy's children
Pictured: Joy’s children, Noah and Jackson

“The biggest message that she wants to get out is that you need to pay attention to your body and to the warning signs that your body gives you.”

After several rounds of chemotherapy and flying back and forth to Texas for treatment, doctors recently told the young mother to two boys, 21-months and four-years-old, that there is nothing more they could do. Doctors have told her she now only has two to four weeks to live. She’s only 30-years-old.

“Joy hasn’t wanted any visitors except for her family which is understandable,” said Geiger Caddell. “Joy is in a place where she is trying to accept what’s happening to her. Kevin, her husband, is pretty upset. He’s having a hard time processing everything, and it hurts when your friend hurts.”

Geiger Caddell has known Kevin, a Christian counselor, since college. The two attended North Greenville as well as church together. After learning his wife only has a limited time left, he’s chosen to take two months off of unpaid leave to be at home with his dying wife.

“I really want to back him and let him know that, ‘hey, finances right now are one thing that you shouldn’t have to worry about while you’re worrying about your wife and two small kids,” said Geiger Caddell.

To help the O’Connell family with their finances during this difficult time, Geiger Caddell is hosting a Chicken Bog Benefit.

“We’re asking people to please order your tickets in advance so we have an idea of how many people are going to be showing up,” said Geiger Caddell.

The dinners can be purchased on April 10th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m at Santee Circle Community Church in Moncks Corner.

The dinners will cost just $7 and will include chicken bog, green beans, cole slaw, bread and dessert.

For details on the upcoming event, click here.

To order a plate, you can call the church at 843-899-5912 or Laura Geiger Caddell at 843-729-0545

Organizers are asking folks to order in advance so they can have an idea of how many plates to prepare.  If interested in purchasing a plate, you can order up until April 3rd.



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  • Angela Holland

    What can I do to help?? Please call
    Or text we will do anything!

    • Hi Angela–To help Joy, you can call Laura Geiger Caddell at 843-729-0545. She’s the family friend who’s organizing the benefit for Joy.

  • Angela Holland


  • Tonya

    I am so sorry to hear this heartbreaking story. I lost my mom when I was only 5 and she was 25. She too had colon cancer. This form of colon cancer is heretitary and I too found out I had it at the age of 10. Luckily mine was caught right before it turned into cancer. I have had several surgeries since then, but I am ok. I still have to have polyps removed every year and constantly following up with my dr. I was told 2 out of 3 of my children would also have this disease. I have 2 children and praise God bot have tested negetive for the gene I carry.
    I tell you this to let you know that I do understand what you and your family are going through. Please take my experience and have the gene documented so you can have your children tested. It is only a simple blood test.
    I will be praying for your family as you go through this. Enjoy the time you have…no one is guaranteed tomorrow!

  • Pam

    There are people who would like to donate, but do not live in the state. Can we please get an address to send funds to.

    Thank you so much, and God Bless!

  • Milena

    Why don’t they try the Gerson Therapy?????