With 12 inches of her colon now gone, Misti Lauscher-McDonald is battling stage three colon cancer.
"I was very upset," says Misti. "There's so many things going through my head right now--you know I don't know if it's going to be strong, I don't know if I'm going to lose my hair, I don't know if it's going to make me really sick."
Having only experienced symptoms for three months, she was understandably shocked by the news.
Misti's doctor is confident she will only need about six months of treatment.
"We should be optimistic; she's young and she's otherwise healthy," says Dr. Kirk Ludwig, colon cancer surgeon at the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin. "She should be able to tolerate an aggressive course of chemotherapy, and I think we should hope for a good, long-term outcome for her."
But Misti's message is clear: no one fights alone.
These women are just a small part of her support group. Co-workers of hers for only a short time, after learning of her diagnosis, they immediately came together to organize a benefit on her behalf.
"This is a great thing for a great person that's just fallen on a little bit of hardship, and it could be anybody: it could be me, it could be you, it could be them," says co-organizer Robinn Pederson.
More than 300 donations have come in, and that's not including the growing cash fund at the Great Lakes First Federal Credit Union.
An acquaintance of Misti's made pins to raise awareness about colon cancer. Now members of Misti's family will be making more for her benefit, and selling them, along with bracelets and t-shirts.
"It's not just about Misti and it's not just about colon cancer. It's about all those people that have had family and friends that have been affected by some type of cancer," Pederson adds.
To look at Misti, you'd never know that she's preparing for the battle of her life; her only armor: a positive attitude.
"My kids keep me going. If it wasn't for them, I'd probably be a complete wreck," she laughs. "But you have to just take it one day at a time."
Misti's benefit will be this Saturday from 3-11 p.m. at the American Legion in Gladstone. Suggested donations for the spaghetti dinner are six dollars for adults and three for kids.
There will also be raffles, a silent auction, and live music.