Teen works to raise money for ailing mother

(WISH Photo)

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) – Doctors diagnosed a Columbus mom with an aggressive form of bladder cancer in January.  They told 36-year-old Sara Snelson she would have nine to twelve months to live.  This Christmas she is fighting for her life.  She says she’s fighting mostly for her kids who actually are working on something very special for her and they could use help.

Her oldest daughter, 17-year-old Lexi Snelson, is putting all of her effort and energy into raising money, so if that dreaded day comes they can remember the good times they’ve shared and throw a big celebration of life.

Lexi remembers what she first thought when she learned of her mom’s terminal cancer.

“That I wouldn’t  have a mom.  That was the first thing I thought of,” Lexi said as she fought through tears.

Sara has signet ring cell cancer, along with bone cancer.  Signet ring cell is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that attacks the bladder.  The cancer treatments simply weren’t working.  Sara was placed in hospice care. Her food and water were cut off and she had lost consciousness.  She was basically waiting to die.  Then, one day there was what this family calls a miracle.  Sara woke up.

“A month later I’m waking up and I’m like, really, that just happened?” said Sara.

For an unknown reason, Sara not only woke up, but she stood up and started drinking and eating.  Good news, yes.  But, she’s got a ways to go.

“Every day is kind of a battle still,” said Sara.

Sara is still receiving hospice care.  Her cancer remains aggressive.  Doctors are waiting to see what happens next before considering any other treatments.

“It’s very traumatic for everyone involved,” said Sara’s sister, Aline Browning.

Now, Lexi is cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her mom.  It’s very different than the life of a typical teen.  Burdens her mother says are hard to watch her little girl carry.  But, says she’s proud.

“You think of your average 17-year-old.  ‘I want to go to the mall.  I want to do that.’  My daughter comes home from school, curls up at the foot of my bed, does her homework every night, fixes us dinner we need, goes and gets us dinner if we need, and that’s what she does every night for a 17-year-old.   She couldn’t care less whether she had her friends and that’s just amazing to me.  To be that loved,” said Sara.

Lexi says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I just want to spend every minute with her because when she’s gone, she’s gone,” she sobbed.

Lexi has also stepped into a mother role of sorts to her three younger siblings.  There’s three-year-old Andreya and 11-year-old twins, Abe and Ali.

“It’s good to know that people understand what we’re going through,” said Abe.

There’s a lot of love in the house and there’s also a lot of hope.

“And as a family we don’t expect her to pass away.  It’s just not real,” said Aline.

But, just in case, Lexi started a donation site to prepare.  At just 36, Sara doesn’t have life insurance and this family wants to make sure they can celebrate the moments they shared.

“We want flowers everywhere.  Just, make it memorable,” said Lexi.

In hopes of replacing the pain of loss with the joy of her life.

“It’s still good to know that we have memories of her and she’ll always be with us,” said Abe.

Sara says the outpouring of support from her friends, her family and her churches have been amazing.

If you’d like to help you can donate by clicking here.

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