Trip to the doctor’s office put Margie on a fast track to fighting cancer.

October 4, 2014

Survivor Stories.

Sponsored by All Access Care of Ludington. Located at 329 N. Jebavy Dr. in Ludington; 231-425-4544;

Survivor Stories run the first and third Saturday of each month. If you have a story to tell, please contact Senior Correspondent Kate Krieger or call/text 231-794-8402.

Margie Hullinger.

Margie Hullinger.

By Kate Krieger. Senior Correspondent.

LUDINGTON – Many people take their health for granted and when living without proper health insurance, it can be easy to just ignore your health all together. Ludington resident, Margie Hullinger did just that.

Last summer, Margie was busy planning her son’s wedding and reception while turning a blind eye to the fact that she really wasn’t feeling so great. She didn’t have health insurance and said that she wasn’t really taking care of herself as much as she could because going to the doctor on a regular basis was just too expensive.

all_access_sponsorship_100114“I kind of quit taking care of myself,” she said. “I hadn’t been feeling good and I was starting to fill up with fluid.”

She finally had to take some sick days from her job at Safe Harbor Credit Union and she had probably only ever taken two or three sick days during her three years there.

“I didn’t want to go to the emergency room,” she said. “I knew that going there would be more money and then I had a friend tell me about All Access Care.”

Margie had been going online and researching her symptoms and she had come to the conclusion that she thought she might have some type of cancer. She went in to All Access Care Friday, September 13, 2013.

“It was Friday the 13th,” she said. “I went in around 10 a.m. to All Access Care. They ran a few tests and then called the ER and told them I was coming right over.”

Margie went to the emergency room, where the doctors ran a bunch of tests to determine what was wrong. Margie and her husband, Rod, were both sure it was cancer.

“The doctor came in and said, ‘it’s ovarian cancer.’”

Having no primary doctor, Margie waited to see Dr. Richard York, who was on call that day, but due to an emergency appendectomy, Dr. York couldn’t see her right away and she was admitted over night. Dr. York came to see her later that night and drained out over seven quarts of fluid from her body.

“After he did that, I felt wonderful, even though I knew I was sick,” she said. “I lost 20 pounds just from that.”

Sent home the next day to start her plan of attack against the cancer, Margie really didn’t know where to start or what really she had to do in order to begin the fight. She said that she was so thankful for All Access Care because they had her come back to the office that next week and they really got the ball rolling for her. She was sent to see Dr. Gordon Downey, a specialist in Grand Rapids.

“Dr. Downey first diagnosed me with stage four after seeing the tests he was sent,” Margie said. “He had more tests completed and determined that the cancer hadn’t spread into the lymph nods yet, so he uped me to stage 3c.”

On October, 11, Margie underwent a debulking surgery, where she had a complete hysterectomy and Dr. Downey removed anything else that “didn’t look right.”

“That’s fast,” Margie said. “I was diagnosed in September and having surgery in October. It took four hours and I really wasn’t in the greatest of health when it all started either.”

Dr. Downey said that it looked like someone took a paintbrush and splattered inside of her, meaning that it wasn’t all encapsulated, it was scattered all around making it harder to remove, Margie said.

“He wasn’t able to get all of it,” she said. “It wasn’t in the lymph nods, but it had spread into the diaphragm and the small intestine.”

After five days in the hospital, Margie was released to come back home.

“I did everything I was supposed to do and I got to go home,” she said. “Dana, my daughter in law stayed with us for a week and she was a lot of help for us.”

For the next four months, Margie recalled sleeping in her recliner and she stated that she was a little afraid to go back to sleeping in her bed.

“I thought maybe I wouldn’t wake up,” she said. “ I was afraid.”

Between the slow recovery process and continuing to worry about any ache or pain that popped up from time to time, Margie started getting her life back. She received six chemo treatments, which wrapped up in February and she continues going to the cancer center at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital every 21 days to receive a two-hour treatment and blood work.

“Rod calls the center ‘The Club,’” she said. “Dr. Downey really works with Dr. Peterson. They’re angels there. They really took care of me.”

Margie said she never really got too sick from the chemotherapy, which she said she was very fortunate, especially during the winter.

She will continue her current treatments into this November and she can remember after her chemo was completed in February she got some good news from her doctor.

“When my chemo was done, my blood counts came back and my doctor told me that those counts put me into remission.”

Feeling great, Margie continues to live her life everyday to the fullest and she thanks the staff at All Access Care for helping her determine what was wrong and getting her the help she needed to fight the cancer,

“That’s where it all started,” she said. “I thank them everyday. They really took over and helped me so much.”

Margie was able to receive health insurance, even with her pre-existing conditions in January and with the help of a benefit thrown in her honor at the American Legion, her medical bills have dropped dramatically. But there was a time before being covered where the stacks of bills kept coming and she had to just continue to fight even though she wasn’t sure how she was going to pay off all the debt her health was causing her and her family.

“The health insurance company took me and I was so grateful. I don’t know what we would have done otherwise, but I knew I had to fight this cancer. There are people out there who will help you, you just have to talk to them. There’s hope.”

Margie still continues to fight and is in very good spirits about her future.

“I just had to be selfish, she said. “I didn’t want to die. I have way too much fun to have in my life yet.”

This summer has been a lot better than last summer and she is definitely taking better care of herself now, she said.

“I am just so grateful to everyone who has helped me. I really feel marvelous.”

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