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Family giving thanks for time together

Debbie, Kelsey, Mallory and Ashley Betzold of Farmington attended an October taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. They’ll be back this week for Ellen’s 12 Days of Giveaways. (Submitted Photo)

Around Thanksgiving, most people spend some time reflecting on what they are thankful for. For the Betzold family of Farmington, this Thanksgiving provided the opportunity to be more grateful than usual for additional time spent together.

Debbie Betzold was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in November of 2014. At the time of her diagnosis, the cancer had spread to her liver and was deemed inoperable. Just three months earlier, her husband Darren had been diagnosed with kidney cancer. He had his kidney removed and is now cancer-free, but Debbie will likely be on chemotherapy for the rest of her life, her daughter Kelsey said.

When Kelsey found about about her mother's condition, she wanted to help her cross an item off her bucket list. Thus began a year-long quest to secure tickets for The Ellen DeGeneres Show. It turns out, Kelsey got even more than she had even bargained for.

"This is something that she's talked about forever, and ever since she got sick, I really, really wanted to be able to take her," Kelsey said. "She always goes out of her way to be able to do things for other people, so I really wanted to be able to give that back to her."

Kelsey and her sisters Mallory and Ashley, all Farmington High School graduates, have been living at home to help care for their mom.

"We just try to keep her quality of life as best as possible," Mallory said.

And although they knew flying to California to sit in the audience of a talk show might be a bit out of their mother's comfort zone, it was something they wanted to be able to do for her.

So for more than a year, Kelsey tried to get tickets to the in demand show. Little did she know when she finally obtained seats for an Oct. 24 taping, she and her mom and sisters would be returning for another show in December.

To surprise their mom with the news, the Betzolds created a version of Hangman using the phrase, "We are going to Ellen."

"We set it up on wall made her guess letters," Mallory said. "She was completely shocked. She didn't even know what to say."

The real shock, however, came at the end of the taping on Oct. 24, when Ellen invited her entire audience back for Ellen's 12 Days of Giveaways, a series of promotional shows where DeGeneres gives away thousands of dollars worth of prizes to audience members.

"I was shocked because the odds of us getting those, I was seriously speechless," Kelsey said.

"People were going crazy. They were hugging strangers, laughing and crying," Mallory said. "It is a pretty big and special deal that only twelve audiences get to come back for it."

So another trip is on the agenda for the Betzold women, who will fly back out to Burbank on Nov. 30 to attend a taping Dec. 1.

As for father and husband Darren, he is OK with being left out.

"He's actually excited that he has the house to himself," Mallory said.

Though the Betzold sisters look forward to the trip with their mom, it does not erase the fact she still has cancer. Kelsey said it has been a challenge, to say the least.

"We are still so young and we want our mom to be there to see us get married and have kids," she said.

But family members remain hopeful. When Debbie's nine-year-old grandson Ryder found out about his grandma's cancer, he told her, "Grandma, I'm gonna fight with you."

Ellen's 12 Days of Giveaways began airing Monday, Nov. 21. The Betzolds are not certain what day their taping of the show will air. We will update our website with that information when it becomes available.

To follow Debbie Betzold's story, visit https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/debbiebetzold/journal.

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