In 2014, I was waitressing when one of my regulars suggested I go to the doctor to have my cough checked out. I went to the doctor and found out, yes, I had a tumor, and it was cancer. My two friends came with me, and we stood outside and cried. I was scheduled for surgery; I had to have a thoracotomy to remove my center and lower right lobes.

I was then sent for chemo. My family and friends rallied around me as I lost my hair and was sick from side effects like neuropathy and tinnitus. My first cat scan came back fine, but my second saw something suspicious in my left lung. I had a needlepoint biopsy that showed it was another cancerous tumor. The second round of chemo was much stronger. I had the same side effects, plus more.

When my head and neck aches became too painful, I went to the emergency room. The doctor came over, looked down at me with tears in his eyes and said, “You have cancer of the brain.” I had four tumors on my brain. My then 17 year-old daughter came with me to my radiation oncologist where he told me I had stage four metastasized lung to brain cancer with a five-percent survival rate and only about six months to live.

Needless to say, my daughter and I went home and cried for three nights about all the experiences I would miss in her life: graduation and becoming a grandmother. Then I stopped crying and remembered that I needed to stay strong. I had a whole brain radiation that came with even more side effects. I was foggy and didn’t have great balance.

But that was July 2016. Here I am March 3, 2018 with hair on my head, happiness in my heart and hope to give to other cancer survivors like me. I’m grateful that in the midst of all this, a friend of mine attended a Team Tony fundraiser. At the time, I couldn’t afford doctor bills. They helped me with bills, gave me gas cards and arranged rides to my treatments.

And my teammate, Erin, supported me through some difficult times. When I was having scan anxiety, I called her crying saying, “I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die!” She talked me through it. Team Tony is a great organization that I’m proud to be a part of. Thank you very much!