There truly is nothing more devastating than losing a family member to cancer, but when the loss is your daughter, the pain is even deeper. Finding a silver lining in the loss is impossible and going on is a day to day journey. For Paulette Duggins, the loss of her daughter Angelica Da’Juana “Angel” Duggins, to colorectal cancer at the age of 32 came after a three-year battle that began in 2017. During her treatment, Angel was blessed to have a supportive and caring family who put their trust in God to see them through. Angel knew there were many who didn’t have health insurance or the emotional support she had, so she shared with her family her desire to start a non-profit to help others dealing with cancer. In June 2020, after Angel’s passing, The “Angelic Warrior Foundation,” AWF, was established by her family.
The Beginning of an Unexpected Journey
At the age of 29, the last thing you would expect is a diagnosis of stage IV colorectal cancer, but that was the news Angel and her family received in July 2017. Angel’s diagnosis came as quite a shock and without warning or any obvious signs or symptoms. Chemotherapy followed a few weeks later for Angel; it was during these treatments that Angel noticed patients who were alone, while she had several loved ones by her side. “Angel had discussions with myself and her siblings about seeing other cancer patients alone, as well as her concern of how those without health care afforded expensive chemo treatments. It was Angel’s wish to start a non-profit to address patients without health insurance and without emotional support. To honor Angel’s wishes, last June, her siblings and I established Angelic Warrior Foundation,” commented Paulette.
A Mission to Help Others
The mission of the Angelic Warrior Foundation is to raise awareness about colorectal cancer and to provide the financial and emotional support that patients, their caregivers, and their families need in order to thrive during a difficult time. The vision is to decrease the number of premature deaths, and young people under the age of 40 being diagnosed, by encouraging screenings and discussions about family history.
Angel’s focus on others during the hardest time in her life wasn’t surprising to her family at all.
Angel came into this world 9 minutes after her twin brother Antonio and grew up in her hometown of Williamston, NC. “Angel had a big, radiant smile and an even bigger heart. She brought joy, excitement, love, compassion, and a spirit of giving and sharing to everyone around her. During her teenage years, when I wasn’t around, Angel became the mother-in-charge, a role that fit her well due to her caring and nurturing nature,” recalled Paulette.
After graduating from high school in 2006, Angel attended WSSU, receiving a BS in Business Administration, leading her to a job with Bank of America in Greensboro, NC. The corporate life didn’t quite fit with Angel’s calm, laid back, personality, so she began working at Forsyth County Department of Social Services, where her heart of servitude and caring for others was right at home. Quite possibly, Angel’s legacy of helping others will have the greatest impact in the years after her passing.
Honoring a Life Well-Lived
Since its establishment in June 2020, the Angelic Warrior Foundation has launched its official website, and developed a following of over 500 on several social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. “We have shared educational blogs about colon cancer, started a Colon Cancer Screening Stories Campaign, raised over $4000 through selling AWF clothing merchandise, along with the generous donations from our supporters. The AWF board members consist of those closest to Angel during her journey, to include myself, her twin brother, as we were her caregivers, and her siblings Jasmine, Cameron, and Joy. Since our founding, we have provided support to two families, where with one an entire family of five was screened for colon cancer due to an extensive family history with the disease. Our goal is to continue to raise awareness, and support patients, caregivers, and families as we work with other like-minded organizations,” Paulette said.
Family was at the heart of Angel’s life and in her final few years, she became a first- time aunt and by 2020, she was blessed to be an aunt to 5 nieces and nephews and they all added much joy and happiness to her life. Even in her passing, her love for her mother, twin brother and siblings, continues with the work of AWF.
For more information on AWF, visit www.angelicwarriorfoundation.org. The Duggins family would like to thank the medical professionals at Novant Oncology in Kernersville, NC for their care of Angel.