Saving her son, finding grace

Apr 4, 2013

Anne Marie Hamming and her kids
Credit Mark Bugnaski

Can you have it all? Anne Marie Hamming of Middleville thought she did: she had a fulfilling career in journalism as well as a husband and two kids. But then it all fell apart.

First, her marriage collapsed. Next, her son Lee became chronically ill and she didn't know why. For three years, he suffered from mysterious symptoms that required constant testing and trips to the doctor. It exhausted Hamming. She soon realized that she could no longer perform at a high level at work. So, she quit to stay at home full-time with her son despite the divorce and an uncertain economic future.

Eventually, Lee was diagnosed with IPEX syndrome, a rare and severe auto-immune condition that required a bone marrow transplant. The journey to that diagnosis and the medical treatments that followed meant Hamming had to make the heart-wrenching decision to have her parents care for her eldest child Katie for 15 months. The reunion of mother and daughter wasn't easy. Hamming says Katie resented her mother and her younger brother, at first. Lee, who’s now nine, is in the second grade; Katie, 11, is in sixth grade.

Credit Mark Bugnaski

Hamming has written the memoir Saving Lee, Finding Grace: A Mother's Journey about how she stayed sane during her emotionally-draining ordeal, restored her son's health, and rebuilt the bond with and between her children.

Hamming will be at the Barnes & Noble in Portage from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 6th. She’ll visit Kazoo Books II on Parkview Avenue between 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 13th.

Hamming says people asked her how she managed to make it through. "I decided to write about how I not only made it through but also how I found deep joy and purpose," Hamming says. "Now I wouldn’t give up those experiences for anything.”

Hamming hopes she will inspire those going through similar trials to remind themselves about the things they still have that help them have gratitude for life.