News

Family man's legacy lives on

Christina Hussong Huzenlaub takes care of her dad, Roger Hussong, in late August at Virginia Mason Hospital after a surgical procedure on his left lung where cancer had spread. - Courtesy photo
Christina Hussong Huzenlaub takes care of her dad, Roger Hussong, in late August at Virginia Mason Hospital after a surgical procedure on his left lung where cancer had spread.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Tears of grief, tears of joy, tears of fatigue and tears of hope have all fallen in the 400-square-foot waiting room on the 15th floor of Virginia Mason Hospital.

Some of those tears belong to Christina Hussong Huzenlaub and her husband, Ash Huzenlaub.

Christina’s father, Roger Hussong, died on Sept. 1 of blastic mantle cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was a rare and aggressive cancer, “the worst of the worst,” Ash said.

After Hussong was diagnosed in August 2006, Christina and her husband packed up their home in Texas and moved back to Washington to be close to Christina’s dying father.

Christina grew up in Federal Way, graduating from Decatur High School in 2002 as a state champion swimmer. Roger Hussong, an Air Force veteran, was retired from Boeing.

Hussong, who had always been a strong supporter of his daughter’s athletics, was initially given four weeks to live. But he was strong and persistent. He lived an entire year.

For Hussong’s daughter and son-in-law, much of that year was spent in the waiting room on the 15th floor, the Canlis Cancer Care Unit. The couple estimates they spent more than 1,000 hours in the waiting room. Many times, they put in 12-hour days. During that time, the family developed close relationships with the hospital staff.

In August, Christina and Ash received the news that Hussong was succumbing to cancer and would soon die. It was then they came up with an idea.

To show appreciation for the staff and to memorialize their father, the couple would raise money to revamp the 15th-floor waiting room.

“We felt like we needed a project and Roger wanted to give back to the hospital,” Ash said. “We want to make it more comfortable.”

The waiting room was a perfect choice, Ash said.

“It’s small, but so many great things happen there,” he said. “Some people are spending their last days with their loved ones in that room... Then there are joyous times when the doctor says you’re cured.”

The couple aims to raise $15,000 to re-carpet and re-paint. They will set up a 42-inch plasma flat-screen television and a mini-library with books about understanding cancer for children and adults. There will be comfortable furniture, tropical fish and new window coverings. A small plaque will display Roger Hussong’s name.

The couple have already raised $5,000 toward their goal from friends and family. They presented the project to Hussong shortly before he died and Christina saw a rare sight — her father in tears.

“He’s not a crier,” she said. “He just thought it was amazing. He was amazed at the ability to do it and that so many people were contributing.”

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

How to help

Donations to the Roger Hussong Initiative are accepted at any branch of Washington Mutual Bank, benevolent account number 3402099853. Checks made out to “The Roger Hussong Initiative” can be mailed to 17305 135th Ave. E., Puyallup, WA 98374.

For more information, visit www.RogerHussong.org.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 24 edition online now. Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates