Holidays are always a special time to get together with family. But when a loved one is ill with a life threatening disease, holidays can be bittersweet. On the news last night, I saw a story about a mother/daughter who lived in the same town I live in that I wanted to share their story.
It's a day to celebrate the mothers in our lives, but one family is trying to do that every day, because they know their Mom may not be around next Mother's Day.
Ashlie Wingate and her mother, Laurie Nelson, both of Brandon, have a typical mother-daughter relationship; not always easy during the teen years, but they grew a lot closer as adults.
"We've definitely had our trials but now that she's grown up, she realizes maybe mom was kind of right," Nelson said.
Right about a lot of things, but even as a nurse, Nelson couldn't have imagined what was going on when she came down with something last spring.
"We thought it was pneumonia. We went out for dinner one day and she just couldn't breathe, she goes, I think I have pneumonia, I get it this time every year," Wingate said.
But the family was shocked to learn it was stage four ovarian cancer. Doctors removed 95% of the cancer, but still gave Nelson one to two years to live.
"I have good days and bad days, and hopefully I'll start having good days again," said Nelson.
The diagnosis was about a year ago, and now, Nelson has just finished her last round of chemotherapy. It's been a difficult year for this single mother, but she and her daughter have only grown closer because of it.
"She's pretty amazing;, she's been a rock, that's for sure," Nelson said.
Aside from the physical pain, Nelson is also financially strapped because she doesn't have health insurance. She says when she was diagnosed, she was just finishing nursing school and only working part-time.
Wingate watched the bills pile up while her mom got sicker, and decided to try and help with expenses by making and selling these bracelets. She calls them "Laurie's Angels."
"I would see these plastic bracelets and think, why not make something prettier for moms, daughters, friends. It's a little guardian angel, and you can have it with you wherever you go," said Wingate.
"She knows I love angels, they're kind of my thing, so it was perfect," Nelson said.
Wingate started the project about two months ago, and has already sold quite a few by word-of-mouth, and also with the help of Visual Images in Brandon. The salon has agreed to set up a basket and sell the bracelets for $10 a piece.
"I'm looking for more places to set up a basket with them," said Wingate.
Besides just helping pay off some bills, Wingate also wants to spread the word about ovarian cancer.
"It's usually caught too late. In my mom's case, they said it probably grew within six months to stage 4, and she didn't know about it," Wingate said.
"It also reminds me to tell other women about ovarian cancer, because it is a silent killer," said Nelson.
And while this family works so hard to beat the cancer, Wingate says her angel, is her mother.
“She's a hero, through and through,” said Wingate. “I've watched her through so many challenges, she's so brave and she's a great role model."
Wingate is hoping that ovarian cancer won't take her mother too soon, and Nelson says the experience has taught her to appreciate her family.
"Never take away that time to say I love you, because you may never know when you'll have it again," said Nelson.
To buy a bracelet, help sell them, or make a donation, email Ashlie Wingate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
warning signs of ovarian cancer
I encourage everyone to watch the video and order yourself a bracelet. Miracles can and do exist.