Suddenly Widowed and With Cancer, Mom Worries for Sons

'It's been scary'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2017 10:14 AM CDT
Mom Loses Husband Days After Learning She Has Cancer
Tessie Sylvester was diagnosed with cancer. Days later, she lost her husband John to ALS.   (GoFundMe)

Within the span of days, Tessie Sylvester lost her husband to ALS and was diagnosed with cancer. But the Minneapolis mother of two isn't focusing on the unfairness of it all. "I’m not ready to give into it," she tells WCCO. John Sylvester, a former Minnesota Thunder soccer player, died June 16 after a six-year battle with the disease. "He kept telling me, 'It's going to be OK, it’s going to be OK,'" Tessie Sylvester says. But she never told her dying husband she had cancer—news she had gotten days earlier. "I was literally on the phone with the funeral director, and the other line beeped and it was my doctor," she says.

Tessie Sylvester is self-employed and self-insured, Minnesota Public Radio reports. The adenocarcinoma is attacking the 36-year-old's liver and lymph nodes, and she won't be able to work while undergoing chemotherapy. And more than that, she wants to spend as much time as possible with her sons, ages 5 and 6, who she's afraid of leaving without parents. "It’s been scary," Sylvester tells KMSP. "That's probably the best word for it." A GoFundMe page set up to help the family has raised more than $140,000 in four days. And Sylvester hopes she'll have another source of help, too. "I think John went when he did because he knew that I needed some protection from another place," she tells WCCO. (This mom beat cancer while pregnant but died a day after birth.)

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