On Sunday, the Husband and I went for a bike ride.  As we wheeled our bikes out to the street, we stopped to say a quick hello to my neighbor, Tonya.  Tonya is 32 years old and is the mother of two beautiful little boys who are 2 and 3 years old.  She also happens to have a green thumb.


The Hus and I had been debating our flowerbeds for a week or so – I said we needed to tear up the spring flowers because they were getting too big, and he wanted to keep them in.  I asked Tonya what she thought, and she said she agreed with me and the flowers should be removed.  “Victory!” I said with a smile and fist pump.


And then we rode off.


A little bit later, I decided to tackle the flowers and stepped outside.  Tonya was now working in her own garden, covered in sweat and dirt.  “Hey!” I called out over the property line. “I’m going to take your advice and pull up those flowers.”



“Oh, good!” she responded, pulling at some weeds.  I walked over to admire her work – her garden is ALWAYS gorgeous and well-maintained, like a magazine cover.  In fact, Tonya seems a lot like the kind of woman that I want to be in five years – two beautiful children, a wonderful husband, a lovely home, a good attitude about life.  We talked a little bit about gardening, and then she casually mentioned that she was tending her garden for a cancer party she was hosting that night.


“A cancer party?” I asked, thinking it must surely be a fundraising event for Team in Training or another organization.


Tonya shrugged, smiled, and took a deep breath.  “Yeah.  I was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer on Tuesday.”  She paused, as if saying it out loud sounded strange.  “I’m still trying to wrap my mind around things, but I feel so positive and trust that God will take care of me and my family.  I wanted to throw a party to celebrate life.”


I didn’t know what to say (what can you possibly say to a 32 year old mother with brain cancer?), so I just grabbed her sweaty arms and wrapped her in a big bear hug.  When I released her, she was still smiling.  I was visibility shaken, I’m sure. 


I offered to help her with the gardening so she could get ready for her party, and we chatted a bit more while we mulched.  She told me that she’s been experiencing crushing migraines for many months, and after a trip to the emergency room and a CAT scan, her doctors discovered the tumor that no one was expecting. 


Tonya and her husband, Kevin, know there is a long and hard road ahead of them.  She will have a biopsy soon to see exactly what type of cancer it is; however, the doctors already know it’s not operable because of the location.  She will then start chemotherapy.  Tonya and Kevin are anticipating upwards of $100,000 in medical costs, transportation, babysitting, and other fees over the next few years.  But they have each other, their wonderful family, and their strong faith in God to get them through it.  If anyone can do this, it’s Tonya.


After our conversation, I returned to my own garden.  I pulled out those flowers in a fury.  I was mad.  I was sad.  I felt helpless and useless.  I yanked out the flowers with a great deal of force, and then I tackled a bunch of monkey grass that has been growing in the beds for years, leaning back and using my body weight to tear up the deeply-rooted plants. 


And then, I found this:


Deep in the roots, I discovered a pair of women’s reading glasses.  I brushed the dirt off the glass and stared at the unusual design, trying to determine how old they were.  I imagined the woman who must’ve lived in my house years ago as she planted the monkey grass in the hot Charlotte sun.  Perhaps she put her glasses down in the dirt as she got up to get a glass of water and then forgot about them, covering them up with dirt and mulch.  I imagined her fruitlessly searching her house for her glasses later, never to find them again. 


Holding those glasses, I realized so much of life is about losses and gains.     It is about health and illness.  It is about an uncertain future and the possibilities you see when you look at a young child.  Life can be about losing faith; it can be about finding faith.  It can be about what is taken from you or what you claim back.  It’s love and despair all rolled into one.  


Life is tending the flowers and fighting back the weeds.


On Sunday, June 12, I will be running my sprint triathlon in honor of Tonya and her incredible attitude. 



My lovely readers – you have come through for my fundraising efforts again and again.  Via my racing efforts and your kind generosity over the past few years, we have contributed almost $10,000 to Team in Training, the Livestrong Foundation, and Girls on the Run.  Now, I must ask you again to look deep into your heart and consider making a donation to Tonya and her family.


Please visit Tonya’s donation page to make a donation, if you feel moved to do so.


And just to make it a little enticing, let’s throw in a raffle!  For every $10 you donate, you will be enter for one chance to win this amazing Garmin 305 GPS watch (paid for out my own pocket).  I have a Garmin 305 and love it – it tracks mileage, pace, and more.  It’s an awesome training tool that will really take your workouts to the next level. 

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Donate $20 and you’ve got 2 entries! 


I’ll pick the winner after my race on the 12th.  Please send the word via your own blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.


Thank you in advance for your donations and your kind words, as I’m sure Tonya will come by the blog to read your comments of support.


It is my deepest hope that we, as a blog community, can come together to help one woman, one family in need. 



  • M May 31, 2011, 1:13 pm

    Bawling at work. I just can’t even fathom this. 🙁

  • Lauren May 31, 2011, 1:15 pm

    Caitlin, I read your blog every day and I don’t think I’ve commented before but I am sitting here in tears in my office so now I feel compelled to. I am a mom, I am 34 years and I take a look at this beautiful family, read your story and cannot fathom it. I can’t wrap my mind around what Tonya is going through and am in awe of her mindset in this time of uncertainty. For now, I will go and make a donation to your page and tonight I will go home and hug my family a little harder.

  • Freya May 31, 2011, 1:16 pm

    Wow, what a moving post – you’ve made me well up! Tonya sounds like the most incredible strong woman, so beautiful and amazing to cope like she is.I can’t even begin to imagine what her family must be going through..life seems so cruel sometimes.
    I’ll definitely be donating, for sure. Thanks for such a moving, yet beautiful, post Caitlin.

  • Marina May 31, 2011, 1:16 pm

    This post really shaked me up, I’m all in goosebumps. When my father was diagnosed cancer, he was like that, strong and courageus. I admire him, and Tonya. Unfortunately, he lost the battle, but I hope Tonya will win this. All my prayers and thoughts go to her and her family.

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin May 31, 2011, 1:18 pm

    Wow. What a moving story.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat May 31, 2011, 1:18 pm

    OMG… Caitlin this story has given me shivers!! I don’t know Tonya, but I admire everything about her already – her spirit, her faith, positivity – she just put a massive smile on my face. She’ll be in my prayers for sure, and I know that we can raise a TON of money for her and her family!!

  • April May 31, 2011, 1:20 pm

    As I read this I couldn’t help but bawl. It’s so easy to get down on yourself over the little things (and sometimes bigger things) that occur in every day life. And then I read about someone like Tonya who has the biggest thing to face and does so with a smile. Thank you. Thank you for the reminder that life is precious and that the only thing we can control is our attitude and our faith.
    Tonya is in my prayers – praying she gets her miracle.

  • Gavi @ Gavi Gets Going! May 31, 2011, 1:21 pm

    This is an unbelievably sad, tragic story, but Tonya’s strength, positivity, and resolve are so admirable. I am going to her page right away. Once again, I am proud and honored to be part of a community that uses its resources for good. Thank you for sharing. Sending her all my positive thoughts.

  • Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat May 31, 2011, 1:22 pm

    I have the same reaction to this situation as you do–sadness and anger. (Taking a deep breath!) However, while others would feel helpless, I LOVE how you, Tonya, and her family are dealing with the situation–with a sense of purpose. Tonya and her family will certainly be in my thoughts and prayers, and so will you for taking the time and effort to hold a raffle to raise money for Tonya and her family!!

  • June May 31, 2011, 1:22 pm

    incredible. that part about finding those old glasses while in a fit of rage and sadness…well thats just downright odd and awesome all at the same time. Isnt it strange how things happen at such times that they do?

    i too am crying…lost my dad 16 years ago to cancer, and most recently lost my momma too…but at least my momma had a full life…Tonya? just too damn young…

  • Rachel @ Fit Fun and Fabulous May 31, 2011, 1:23 pm

    Just made a donation!

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg May 31, 2011, 1:23 pm

    What a sad, sad story — it amazes me how people can have such amazing positive attitudes in times like this. Good luck with the fundraising efforts Caitlin!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) May 31, 2011, 1:24 pm

    Oh my gosh…this is heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing her story. This hits home in so many ways. They are an amazing and beautiful family. My thoughts are with them through all of this.

  • Candra May 31, 2011, 1:25 pm

    My best friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor only a few months after graduating high school. She was a cheerleader and always took care of herself and I had no idea that you could get brain cancer at 18. She had the tumor removed a month later and it was tested as malignant. By the grace of God she never even had to have chemo after that surgery. She gets checked every year and has been cancer free for 6 years. She also graduated college last year and is now a 4th grade teacher. We work out together at least three times a week and she inspires me and her story makes me want to tell people that you never know what you are really capable of until you get there. Don’t doubt
    yourself even if you are incredibly scared.

  • jen @ taste life May 31, 2011, 1:29 pm

    Oh my gosh Caitlin, I’m tearing up here at work. I’m 31 and many of my friends currently have one or two young kids…I can’t imagine what it would be like if this was happening to someone I knew. I will absolutely head over to the donation page and spread the word. Also, you are awesome and I think it’s meant to be that you and Tonya met – I’m sure your readership will greatly help Tonya’s family not just through financial contributions, but prayers and thoughts as well.

  • Aimee May 31, 2011, 1:30 pm

    You got my donation. Please keep us posted on Tonya’s progress. I will keep her and family in my thoughts and prayers. I just gave my little boy a big hug and a kiss with giant tears in my eyes. Life is so not fair sometimes.

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table May 31, 2011, 1:31 pm

    that is terrible news! I got chills as I was reading this post. It breaks my heart how cancer happens to some of the best people. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t rmemeber my dad’s battle and ask why. I admire Tonya’s attitude – that will take her a long way as she goes through this. Please tell her she’s in my thoughts.

  • Carmen (Goodbye Gorda) May 31, 2011, 1:32 pm

    Tonya is amazing! Her strength, spirit, and faith during this time is absolutely inspiring. I’ll tweet to spread the word!

  • Carly (Swim, Run, Om) May 31, 2011, 1:33 pm

    Heartbreaking, but thank you so much for sharing this story! Please let Tonya and her family know that our thoughts and prayers are with them.

  • jen May 31, 2011, 1:34 pm

    just donated. thank you for giving us all the opportunity to do an act of compassion for another person today. much love.

  • Amanda- The Nutritionist Reviews May 31, 2011, 1:35 pm

    Wow it is amazing that she is being so strong! I will pray for her for sure.

  • Jackie May 31, 2011, 1:36 pm

    Caitlin – this is an awesome thing you’re doing! I never comment or anything on your blog – but you inspired me to donate $10. Just think about how many other non-commenters there are out there who could also donate $10 to help this wonderful family!

    Tonya – we’ll be praying for all of you guys!

  • Kristy@RunTheLongRoad May 31, 2011, 1:36 pm

    Wow, just wow. I’m not sure what to say…you are doing a great thing by running your sprint tri in her honor.

  • Khushboo May 31, 2011, 1:37 pm

    This post gave me shivers! God is going to surely take care of Tonya and get family. May he continue to give her to strength to carry on! I think this fundraiser is a wonderful idea and any contribution will make a huge difference!

  • Irene May 31, 2011, 1:40 pm

    I’m sitting in my office in tears after reading this. Tonya ~ you are an amazing mother, wife and person. My thoughts and prayers will be with you.

  • Marissa C May 31, 2011, 1:40 pm

    Just awful 🙁

    By the way, I tried to donate, but a “This Paypal Account is Restricted” notice came up when I tried to go to the next step. Can someone check it out?

  • Andrea @ Run, Eat, Date, Sleep May 31, 2011, 1:44 pm

    Another reader in tears at work. I admire her strength and courage. I wouldn’t even be able to talk about it without crying. Off to the donation page now!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen May 31, 2011, 1:45 pm

    Wow, this is such a heartbreaking story. What an amazing outlook Tonya has and such courage.

  • Erin May 31, 2011, 1:46 pm

    Cancer makes friends and family feel helpless – thank you Caitlin for allowing us to do something to help.

    Tonya – Thanks for allowing Caitlin to share your story with us. I do hope as a community we can give you some strength. Praying for you and your family.

  • Elizabeth May 31, 2011, 1:50 pm

    Beautiful way for the blogging community to come together and to help out this beautiful family. Thank you for spreading the word. I have donated and have spread the word on twitter and via email to several friends and family.

  • Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun May 31, 2011, 1:51 pm

    I am crying reading this. I can’t even begin to imagine the heartache, angst, fear, etc of such a situation. It gives me some sense of peace that Tonya obviously has faith on her side. I hate that feeling of not being able to do anything for someone in such a situation. But I guess you are making it possible to come together with little somethings to hopefully make a big impact. Thanks, Caitlin.

    And Tonya – I will be praying for you and your family. You seem like a beautiful person and my heart goes out to you. Keep grabbing life and making the most of it! Thank you for the beautiful example you set and for sharing your hope, trust in God, love of life, and more. You’re touching lives!

  • Anna May 31, 2011, 1:52 pm

    Sad. Beautiful. Terrible. Inspiring.

    Two close family members are currently battling cancer, thankfully I live in a country with “free” (through taxes) health care for all citizens.
    My donation was as much for Tonya & her family as it was for my grandfather and my bf’s mother who are experiencing the same illness. It’s hard to see the cancer laughing in your face.

    Thank you for sharing Tonyas story.

  • Kristen May 31, 2011, 1:53 pm

    oh my goodness. I can not believe this story. I am reading this at work, and it brought tears to my eyes. Such a sad story and her family is adorable!
    I can not donate while at work. But I will tonight. I will also say prayers for her and her family. I hope you will keep us updated!
    Also, you are such a good neighbor to be there for her. Every little thing counts, even a hug or a card! She is lucky to have you as a neighbor.
    (ok back to work haha)

  • Cindi May 31, 2011, 1:53 pm

    So sad to read this. Sending prayers and positive vibes out to Tonya and her beautiful family.

  • Abby May 31, 2011, 1:54 pm

    Wow. This post really makes you think. I can’t imagine everything that this family must be going through right now. I will be keeping Tonya and her family in my prayers! Props to you Caitlin for sharing this story and making the raffle possible in order to help this family with whatever they may need in this difficult time!

  • Kara May 31, 2011, 1:55 pm

    This post makes my heart hurt. It also makes me want to go wake up my daughter from her nap to give her a hug.

    I will be keeping Tonya and her family in my prayers!

  • Kelly May 31, 2011, 1:55 pm

    That sure puts into perspective what is really important in life. Wow. I have no words but I am humbled. Absolutely humbled.

  • Me-Linh May 31, 2011, 1:55 pm

    I wish her family all the luck in the world. And I wish blogs had a like/love button I could click over and over like facebook.

  • Katherine May 31, 2011, 1:55 pm

    Such gorgeous photos!

  • Lara May 31, 2011, 1:56 pm

    This is so horrible sad but uplifting at the same time. I read Tonya’s story and donated $20, it’s not much but I felt like I wanted to do something. What an amazing woman she sounds like, with an amazing family and friends like you. Really makes me think about life and the silly things I worry and complain about. Thank you for sharing this story.

  • Amanda May 31, 2011, 1:58 pm

    What a heart-wrenching post. I think it’s wonderful that you are helping her out and I will be sure to donate. I’m praying for Tonya!

  • Brittany May 31, 2011, 2:03 pm

    Amazing story! Puts our own struggles and fears into perspective! Donated! Will share her story.

  • Dominique Benzio May 31, 2011, 2:03 pm

    Tonya’s faith in God is such an inspiration. I will keep her in my prayers and spread the word!

  • Sarah S May 31, 2011, 2:04 pm

    wow, what a story. thank you so much for spreading the word for tanya and her family. i just donated and wish them the best.

  • Brittany @a healthy slice May 31, 2011, 2:04 pm

    Oh my gosh- this is heartbreaking. As soon as I get back to my computer I’ll be donating and sending so many thoughts and prayers to Tonya and her family.

  • Mary @ Travel Sized Living May 31, 2011, 2:05 pm

    This was beautifully written, you conveyed all of the emotions of this story perfectly. In my life, I have been touched by cancer multiple times, including brain cancer & sometimes I feel like I might be a ticking time bomb. This story really hit home for me and I felt compelled to donate- I’m also linking to your blog so that others can read it. Maybe we can at least ease the financial burden for this sweet family!

  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat May 31, 2011, 2:06 pm

    Oh my gosh, what a tragic but beautiful and inspirational story. I definitely will help to spread the word!

  • Jamie May 31, 2011, 2:06 pm

    That brought tears to my eyes. I will keep her in my prayers- what a beautiful family!

  • Jess May 31, 2011, 2:08 pm

    Wow. Incredibly sad, yet inspired, story. I cannot begin to fathom. I am totally going to donate to the cause.

  • Michelle May 31, 2011, 2:08 pm

    Wow. I am just blown away by this story and Tonya’s strength and faith. Thank you for sharing her story. I will keep her in my thoughts and prayers (and spread the word on donating). Wow. Just wow.

  • Lauren May 31, 2011, 2:10 pm

    What a beautiful post! Thank you for being so inspiring and kind. I hope Tonya knows how much support she has!

  • ashley May 31, 2011, 2:11 pm

    That’s so terrible about Tonya. I used to work neuroscience at Duke, Johns Hopkins. I’m curious as to where her tumor is located. One of the best neurosurgeons in the world is actually at Duke about 3 hours away from Charlotte. Dr. Friedman. This is who operated on Ted Kennedy. People travel from all over the world to be under his care. I think it’s worth it for Tonya to get a second opinion. If it’s inoperable, it’s inoperable. But I’ve seen a lot of people’s care and lives dictated by the caliber of MD they’re seeing because I’ve worked at a lot of different types of hospitals. Chemo sucks. Is the quality of life that comes with it worth it? A worsening brain tumor sucks. Incomprehension and confusion usually set in. If this is the course Tonya’s life must take, I also really encourage her to establish a living will. People keep loved ones “alive” in vegetative states for years and years as bills pile up and more than one life is lost to the disease. I really feel for her and her family.

  • Penny May 31, 2011, 2:11 pm

    It’s hard to even find words. As a mother of 2 boys myself, I can not imagine the fear she must be feeling. I was happy to make a donation. Thank you, Caitlin, for doing this for her and allowing us to help.

  • Lauren @ Team Giles May 31, 2011, 2:13 pm

    Caitlin, I think this is truly the most beautiful post you’ve ever written. My heart is heavy for Tonya and her family. I’m praying God works a miracle in her life. Thank you for telling her story and thank you Tonya for being so brave to share it.

  • Marysa May 31, 2011, 2:14 pm

    Caitlin – your posts ALWAYS speak to me in ways I need during specific trials in my life. This post really made me wake up and be more grateful for what I have in life and to stop sweating all the small stuff. What a courageous woman Tonya is – my prayers are with her and her family today. Thank you, thank you for posting this. I shared with my Facebook friends as I believe we all need a good “reality check,” from time-to-time. Life is beautiful. 🙂

  • Dee May 31, 2011, 2:15 pm

    Oh gosh, I am now crying during my lunch break. What a beautiful woman and outlook. My heart and prayers go out to her and her loved ones. I cannot even imagine all that they are going through. I will also be sure to donate.

  • Christina May 31, 2011, 2:16 pm

    I’m happy that Tonia is a strong person. Of course I’m here at work reading this and I’m ready to cry. Not because you’re a great writer (because you are!) but because I’m 31 and we’re planning on trying to have children and I can’t imagine how hearing that diagnosis must have impacted her. I don’t know that I’d handle that. it’s a horrible, horrible thing but she seems to have a positive outlook on celebrating the time she has (hopefully it’s a very very long time). Cancer is such a heartless disease and I really hope and pray for a cure. I’ll be donating to say the least. You’re very blessed Caitlin to live next to such a warm caring soul. **enter tears at my desk**

  • Megan May 31, 2011, 2:17 pm

    I can’t find the words either. How heartbreaking, but what an amazing outlook she has!

  • Jennifer@ knackfornutrition May 31, 2011, 2:18 pm

    I am so happy you decided to share this story. It is not fair that someone so young should ever have to deal with something like this. I can’t even really wrap my head around it but it certainly puts things in perspective. I made a small donation, as it is all I am able to give right now, not for the Garmin (I don’t really even care if I am entered or nor) but because it is the right thing to do. I pray that Tonya gets through this ordeal.

  • theorist May 31, 2011, 2:22 pm

    thanks for sharing this caitlin. I will be praying you and this family.

  • Jessica @ Bake a Little May 31, 2011, 2:23 pm


    Thank you for sharing this. It really made me take a step back to reflect. My thoughts are with Tonya and her beautiful family.

  • Parita @ myinnershakti May 31, 2011, 2:27 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing Tonya’s story. It literally moved me to tears. I’m definitely going to spread the word.

  • Aimoree May 31, 2011, 2:28 pm

    I literally just stalked into the room, upset over a speeding ticket and began to read this post, expecting it to be a “usual” lunch post. This is truly one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking posts I have read. I can’t believe moments ago I thought that my speeding ticket was the worst thing ever, this really puts these kinds of things into perspective. I will be keeping Tanya and her family in my thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

  • Meaghan May 31, 2011, 2:28 pm

    What an amazing woman. I can honestly say I don’t think I would have her incredible strength if I were in her shoes. My heart goes out to her and her family.

  • Sarah for Real May 31, 2011, 2:28 pm

    I’m so glad you shared her story. It puts so many things into perspective. I so admire her positive attitude in the midst of such a huge struggle. So inspiring.

  • Nicole C May 31, 2011, 2:30 pm

    Hi, I am visiting your blog via a post from Jasmine at Eat,move, write and all I can say is thank you. Thank you for sharing and help make people aware of how to help. I shared your post on Facebook, hoping to get her as much help as possible even if it’s just some prayers and hugs via the internet.

  • Kelly May 31, 2011, 2:31 pm

    What a beautiful woman, what a beautiful family. Thank you for taking the time to do so much good – for everyone. I am praying for Tonya and her family.

  • becca (bellebottoms) May 31, 2011, 2:33 pm

    This breaks my heart! As someone who has seen cancer up close (3 out of my 5 family members have had some form of it), I can empathize with her sadness! It truly is one of those hard moments where you want to be sad, and dwell in that, but you have to pull out and remember the good in life…I hope this donation effort is a HUGE success!!

  • Gretchen @ Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! May 31, 2011, 2:34 pm

    Caitlin, what a beautifully written post, and a beautiful sentiment at that. I cannot even fathom being able to maintain the strength, positivity, and faith that Tonya is exuding right now. Teared up more than a little just now, I can’t lie. And I’m headed straight to her page to hope that what little I can give is enough to help.

    Thank you for sharing her story.

  • Sarah T. May 31, 2011, 2:34 pm

    So tragic. As a 34 year old mother myself, I can’t even imagine how I would cope if I was in Tonya’s shoes. I am venturing to guess she will be in a lot of prayers today. I know she will be in mind. Thank you for sharing her story and your efforts to raise money. I will pass it along as well.

  • Sara May 31, 2011, 2:36 pm

    Tonya has such an incredible spirit and strength, and I absolutely love that she is throwing a party to celebrate life. It really brings to mind that quote “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. I truly believe the best weapon to fight cancer is a positive spirit – and she certainly has one! I’ll be thinking of her and her family during this ordeal. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nikki T May 31, 2011, 2:36 pm

    What a beautiful family, and a beautiful post. Tonya sounds like an amazing and strong woman and although this is heartbreaking news, her positive outlook will get her through the rough patches more than she knows.
    You are an angel for running your race and fundraising in her honour. Good Luck!

  • Nicki May 31, 2011, 2:37 pm

    Tears are flowing as are prayers immediately. Tonya’s positivity will help her in this battle immensely.

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans May 31, 2011, 2:40 pm

    What a moving story. I hope for strength for this family 🙂

  • Jenna (Hello, I Love You) May 31, 2011, 2:41 pm

    This post definitely made me cry and inspired me. I can’t even imagine what this feels like but her positive attitude is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing her story. I am sending love and light her way. xo

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) May 31, 2011, 2:43 pm

    Oh my gosh- this is heartbreaking. She has such a good attitude about this. What an inspiration!

  • @runfromthecouch May 31, 2011, 2:45 pm

    Wow. I am speechless. It really makes you think about and appreciate the little things in life.

  • Jenny May 31, 2011, 2:45 pm

    Caitlin, thank you so much for sharing this story. I was in tears reading it. I cannot imagine how difficult this must be for their whole family. What an inspiration she is for remaining so strong and faithful despite being diagnosed with this terrible disease. Thank you so much for sharing this story and reminding all of us that even in the darkest of times you can find a little light.

  • Michelle May 31, 2011, 2:46 pm

    My thoughts but most importantly my prayers are with Tonya and her family.

  • Soo @ Little Miss Fitness May 31, 2011, 2:52 pm

    Isn’t it amazing the things people are walking through and we don’t even know? Praise God for friends like you. Praise God that He’s bigger than Tonya’s tumor…praying for this sweet dear. Thanks for sharing this with us. Us bloggers, we’re a special family, aren’t we? 🙂

  • Jessica May 31, 2011, 2:53 pm

    I am honestly left speechless by her bravery and positive attitude. If anything, hearing heartbreaking stories like this remind us to appreciate every single day and every single blessing. Tonya and her family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Kim May 31, 2011, 2:53 pm

    Wow. Thank you for sharing this story. I am sitting in tears. It made me realize how precious life is, and you really do have to celebrate life. We have a lot to learn from Tonya. My thoughts and prayers are with Tonya and her family.

  • Leah @ Why Deprive? May 31, 2011, 2:59 pm

    It was so wonderful of you to post this. Its such an easy thing, but will help so, so much. I think Tonya’s attitude is so inspiring. To stay positive in this situation, its amazing.

  • Priyanka May 31, 2011, 3:05 pm

    Looking at the family picture and reading this story brought me to tears.Thank you for linking to the donation page, as I was reading the story, I knew I had to help in some way.

    My prayers are with her and her family and I am sure God will help them through this situation. Tonya, you inspire me to live life to the fullest and be positive.

  • Lauren @ LaDolcePita May 31, 2011, 3:07 pm

    I was so deeply moved by this post, and all of my prayers and love go to Tonya and her beautiful family.

  • Samantha May 31, 2011, 3:10 pm

    This is such a moving post and it brings me to tears immediately every time I find out about another cancer diagnosis. I’ll never forget the day my mom told me about her cancer — I was a freshman in college and at a local fair when I got the news. Stuff like this changes you forever, but I have a feeling Tonya is a very strong woman. She reminds me of my mom and I know she won’t give in without a fight. This blogging community is amazing and I know we’ll be able to help Tonya and her family!

  • Samantha May 31, 2011, 3:10 pm

    This is such a moving post and it brings me to tears immediately every time I find out about another cancer diagnosis. I’ll never forget the day my mom told me about her cancer — I was a freshman in college and at a local fair when I got the news. Stuff like this changes you forever, but I have a feeling Tonya is a very strong woman. She reminds me of my mom and I know she won’t give in without a fight. This blogging community is amazing and I know we’ll be able to help Tonya and her family!

  • Charity May 31, 2011, 3:11 pm

    God bless you Caitlin. I just lost my best friend to cancer in December, she too had 2 small children as well. I thank you for your effort. I will also be running my first 5k in October in honor of her. 🙂

  • Leanne (Bride to Mrs,) May 31, 2011, 3:14 pm

    What an incredible post. It really put everything in perspective for me. I cannot imagine the sadness in that family right now… but what a great spirit she has… to get diagnosed and then decide to face Cancer and throw a party. An attitude like that will make all the difference in her fight.

    Caitlin — you using your blog as a platform to bring awareness to things like this continues to astound me. Bravo Mrs. Boyle 🙂

  • MariaBu May 31, 2011, 3:15 pm

    Wow..i’m speechless. As a 29 year-old mother of 3 I cannot even imagine how hard it must be for Tonya…I pray the Lord fills their hearts with hope, strenght and courage. Can’t strop crying…a little reminder not to take things for granted and to live life to its fullest…

  • Courtney May 31, 2011, 3:15 pm

    I too have small boys, 9, 3 and 1 year old. I can’t imagine having to go through something like that. My heart breaks for Tonya. I’m so glad she has faith to help get her through it. There were many things in life that I would not have been able to get through without Jesus’ hope. My prayers are with you and your family Tonya.

  • Katie May 31, 2011, 3:16 pm

    Caitlin – I hope you know what a gift you have given this family by posting their inspirational story. It’s been fun watching their donation page grow over the last hour – crazy what a bunch of blog followers can do in a short period of time!

  • Brooke May 31, 2011, 3:16 pm

    I read your blog everyday and today it just took me by surprise. I have never felt a greater need to donate to a stranger. But reading this made me so thankful for our God and how all these people will help and that brought me to donating and sharing the story on my Facebook page. Thank you for sharing and hopefully more people will find it in their hearts to contribute. Such a beautiful family to be struck with a hurdle, but God will take care of them. My prayers are with her and her family.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 11:40 am

      Thank you for reading everyday 🙂 I appreciate it.

  • Corrie Anne May 31, 2011, 3:20 pm

    I’m so happy you shared with us. What a strong inspirational woman. Going to her page right now…

  • Rosalie May 31, 2011, 3:22 pm

    It is so inspiring to see how many of your readers are pitching in here — I couldn’t read this and not donate. You should really feel proud, and not entirely helpless, since you’re helping Tonya and her family in such a huge way. I will keep them in my thoughts. And those who don’t happen to live across the street from a super-blogger and might not be able to get the same kind of publicity… It is wonderful that we can all band together to help this family but it’s so daunting to think of all the others out there that need help too. Still, it’s a good feeling to be able to help at all.

  • Kim Merselis May 31, 2011, 3:32 pm

    What a sad story. I couldn’t fathom being in that situation at any point in my life let alone so early. I certainly shared on my blog.

  • Jenny May 31, 2011, 3:37 pm

    Thank you Caitlin for this post and sharing the story. I’m deeply moved and send all my best wishes to the family. I made a small donation and am thankful this community is rallying to support Tonya and her lovely family.

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey May 31, 2011, 3:39 pm

    Tonya is amazing – without a doubt amazing. I know people always say things like this, but I just couldn’t imagine going through what she is going through. I pray God keeps His hand over her and her family thoughout this difficult time.

  • Danielle @ InDeesKitchen May 31, 2011, 3:45 pm

    Like you, I really am at a loss of words. The strength that Tonya has is amazing and I wish her and her family the best. Let us never take what we have for granted. Caitlin – thank you again for constantly striving to make your readers better people (you really do!).

  • Alison May 31, 2011, 3:48 pm

    This hits home. One of my friends just found out (4 days before her 30th birthday) that she has breast cancer. She also has 3 little girls under age 5. Hard to understand God’s plan sometimes, but with faith we can get through anything.

    This is such a great way to show support to Tanya and her family, Caitlin. Thanks for doing this.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 10:04 am

      I am sorry about your friend!!!

  • Amy May 31, 2011, 3:51 pm

    I echo the thoughts of many… and my heart absolutely sank when I read this.

    My mom died when she was just 36, and I can only imagine she had the same thoughts as Tonya does now.

    Once again Caitlin, you never cease to amaze me in your thoughtfulness and generosity. You are truly a gem.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 10:03 am

      I am so sorry about your momma… thank you for being amazing you!

  • Katie B | perkytoafault May 31, 2011, 3:51 pm

    My heart goes out to Tonya and her family. My father was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this month, and it’s been a struggle just to get through the day. I’ll keep Tonya and her family in my thoughts and prayers.

  • hanne May 31, 2011, 3:54 pm

    Tonya seems incredibly amazing, being able to maintain her strenght and hope in such a situation! My $20 donation seems a little futile compared to how much is needed, but I guess anything is better than nothing. I wish Tonya and her family all the best.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 10:03 am

      You are awesome for donating… Thank you!

  • Natalie @ Will Jog For Food May 31, 2011, 3:54 pm

    All my prayers are with Tonya & her family! Tonya, you are such a brave and amazing woman.

  • Ali May 31, 2011, 3:59 pm

    There’s nothing you can say to someone who has this diagnosis that they haven’t alredy thought about. There is nothing you can do for someone who has this diagnosis other than offer your support and your thoughts and prayers.

    My mom was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor just over a year ago. I can remember the moment that she told me. I can remember where I was standing, what I was wearing, the long line of explitives that came out of my mouth as I threw the onion I was holding straight down the hallway and crumpled to the ground.

    And then I remember begging her to fight, to have a positive attitude and try and kick it, or hold on as long as she could. For her it had been years of on again, off again cancer treatments, lymphoma, lung cancer, skin cancer. This diagnosis was too much.

    I wanted to be angry, but I couldn’t. We all deal with these things in our own way. For Tonya, I’m so glad she has a positive attitude. To show her children that this diagnosis doesn’t mean that her life is over – that’s she’s fighting.

    It’s not just words when I say I’m thinking of her and her family right now…..

    Positive attitude. Keep fighting. We’re rooting for you.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 10:02 am

      I am so sorry about your mother, Ali. You were in my thoughts and prayers!

  • Kristen @ SEO Runner May 31, 2011, 4:08 pm

    Oh wow, how unfathomable!

    I’m choked up, at work, like many other readers. I was just taking a short break between projects and BAM!

    I have a young son and don’t know that I could be as positive as Tonya seems to be about this, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try.

    To Tonya, please remain positive, though it obviously won’t be easy. I wish you luck and hope you have many parties to celebrate life to come.

  • Katie May 31, 2011, 4:09 pm

    Tonya and her family are in my prayers. I am unable to make a donation at her website, I’ve tried twice. Maybe she’s getting too much activity? Anyone else have this problem. I’ll try again later.

    • CaitlinHTP May 31, 2011, 4:10 pm

      Hmm someone else had paypal issues. Were you trying to pay via paypal?

  • Jacqueline May 31, 2011, 4:09 pm

    Thanks Caitlin, for drawing our attention to this family.

  • marian May 31, 2011, 4:16 pm

    My Grandma died of a brain tumor before I was born, and today i donated $50 in her honor. Tonya and her family are in my prayers – her faith is such an incredible example to all of us.

  • Bess @ Bess Be Fit May 31, 2011, 4:21 pm

    This is a very nice thing you are helping her with, Caitlin. I donated $20…not much in comparison but hopefully others will also treat Tonya as they would like to be treated, especially in such a sad circumstance. I know this blog community can come through and do amazing things. Going to spread the word via twitter, facebook, and on my next post.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 10:02 am

      Thank you Bess. $20 goes a long, long when combined with everyone else’s efforts.

  • Jess May 31, 2011, 4:21 pm

    Wonderful post…Such a beautiful family and strong woman! I donated and will definitely send some prayers up for a miracle!!

  • Olivia May 31, 2011, 4:30 pm

    This is an amazing yet heartbreaking story. Thanks for sharing, Caitlin. We will all be praying for Tonya!

  • gabriella @ embracement May 31, 2011, 4:31 pm

    Wow. What an unbelievably beautiful written and touching post. Seeing as how my grandfather died from a brain tumor while living with me when I was only in 2nd grade, this is definitely a touching topic that hits close to home to me. Such a wonderfully strong woman with a positive outlook needs all the support she can get to help keep her in that mind frame. On my way to her page now

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com May 31, 2011, 4:33 pm

    Life is filled with challenges, and I admire Tonya’s positivity in embracing what she’s going through right now. We are all here to help. Sending good thoughts and prayers for her recovery.

  • Heather @ Dietitian on the Run May 31, 2011, 4:34 pm

    Wow. There are never words to put to situations like this. Thankfully there are writers, like you, who feel inspired to share and help in whatever way possible! I can’t tell you how much I love this quote – ” Life can be about losing faith; it can be about finding faith”. I’m heading to a “Celebration of Life” tonight for a co-workers husband who passed last week, very unexpectedly, way too young (30s). Good reminder that even through losses that are tough to comprehend, something good can come, too.

  • Julie May 31, 2011, 4:43 pm

    this just hurts my heart so much. 🙁

  • Julie May 31, 2011, 4:43 pm

    this just hurts my heart so much. 🙁

  • Emily May 31, 2011, 4:44 pm

    Wow, Caitlin, what an awesome, thoughtful post. You gave me goose bumps.

    Tonya, you have a beautiful family. My thoughts and prayers are with you! Have a wonderful time at your party celebrating life, what a great thing to be planning while trying to adjust to the news you have received.

  • Rachel May 31, 2011, 4:45 pm

    This is really beautiful, Caitlin. Thank you.

  • Rachael May 31, 2011, 4:49 pm

    Thank you, Caitlin, for posting this. I donated, and then sat and stared at the “Raised” number on the donation page. Each time I refreshed the page, the number just kept on climbing. Thank you for reaching out to Tonya and her family in such a palpable way. It is so amazing to see the power that the blog community has in times like this!

  • Samantha May 31, 2011, 4:56 pm

    My families’ thoughts and prayers go out to Tonya and hers. A little boy, 6 years old in 1st grade, that attended my boys tiny private Christian school on Guam was diagnosed just before Christmas last year with an inoperable brain stem glioma and was given days, possibly weeks to live. He’s in Houston right now undergoing a trial treatment combo of a drug and traditional therapy…and surviving 6 months later! If that ends up being the kind she’s Dxed with, I’d be happy to get her in touch with the Ramirez family for more information on their journey and the experimental treatment.

    You’re doing a wonderful thing posting about how this family has touched you and that way you plant to support them. Definitely using the power of media for good.

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss May 31, 2011, 5:07 pm

    Omg, that’s amazing. I can understand how you would be shaken after that…but it’s good she has such a positive attitude about it. She’s in all of our thoughts and prayers!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) May 31, 2011, 5:10 pm

    oh what a heartbreaking yet uplifting story all the same 🙁 My thoughts and prayers are with Tonya and her gorgeous family xx

  • Errign May 31, 2011, 5:14 pm

    Caitlin, you are amazing.

    My father was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2005, one month into my senior year of high school. Now, nearly 6 years later, even though we’ve gone through brain surgery, ongoing depression, ups & downs, life changing challenges of memory & motor skill loss – I am so happy to still have my daddy by my side. A family member getting sick is SO hard, especially when it’s unexpected, but I cannot imagine going through what I know I go through regularly with younger siblings in my life. My thoughts, prayers, and well wishes go out to Tonya and her family. I hope she never loses her positivity throughout what is going to be a challenging ordeal. xoxo

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 10:01 am

      I am so sorry about your dad’s diagnosis… I didn’t know that, Errign! I wish you guys the best.

      • Errign June 1, 2011, 11:09 am

        Thanks, Caitlin. As much as it sucks to have it hanging over our heads, my dad is mostly pretty healthy & I seriously do wish Tonya and her family the absolute best. My dad is proof that even though there are going to be challenges, you don’t ever have to give up – he and I just went mountain biking together this morning (and he kicked my butt)! I just want to give Tonya a hug! 🙂

  • Melissa May 31, 2011, 5:15 pm

    Wow … just wow. I will definitely be making a contribution. I will be keeping Tonya and her family in my prayers.

  • Ashley @ the fit academic May 31, 2011, 5:23 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this story – it’s so sad, but it sounds like Tonya is a strong woman and surrounded by those who love her. I’ll be pulling for her!

  • Ali @ Around the VeggieTable May 31, 2011, 5:31 pm

    That was a beautifully written post. Thank you so much for sharing Tonya’s story…I will be sure to repost! It was so easy to donate when I looked into my bank account and saw all the little unnecessary expenses coming out ($93 at Target? I don’t even remember what I bought!) I will continue to keep Tonya and her family in my prayers.

  • Melissa @ Journey to Marvelous May 31, 2011, 5:40 pm

    I, too, teared up reading this and I, too, have never felt so compelled to donate to a stranger. Will be sending love and light to Tonya and her family. Thank you for sharing this and giving so many people the opportunity to make a difference for this beautiful family.

  • Karla May 31, 2011, 5:51 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while but never commented. This is heartwrenching to read… the family will get through it with God’s beautiful help. Definitely will post this on my blog… anything to help!!

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 10:00 am

      Thank you for reading 🙂 I appreciate it, Karla!

  • AndreaG May 31, 2011, 5:58 pm

    Beautifully written Caitlin! Lots of prayers going out to Tonya and her family!!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin May 31, 2011, 6:00 pm

    This is so heartbreaking! 🙁 I am in awe of Tonya’s attitude and strength in this situation. She sounds like an amazing women!

  • Stacy May 31, 2011, 6:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing Tonya’s story. I too was brought to tears for this family. I have donated and shared this on my blog. I will continue to keep them in my thoughts. The blogging community can be a powerful group when we need to and I’m sure this will get people moving! Life is so precious!

  • Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} May 31, 2011, 6:05 pm

    My heart is broken for Tonya and her family. My prayers will be with her.

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul May 31, 2011, 6:12 pm

    wow I am so amazed at her sweet and hopeful heart that God is taking care of her and her family despite the chaos. What an amazing person you are Tonya! thank you Caitlin, this was yet another eye-opening post.

  • alison May 31, 2011, 6:22 pm

    Caitlin, you have such a warm heart. You’re a great neighbor and I was so happy to donate to Tonya’s fund. Prayers and best wishes to Tonya and her family during this very trying time.

  • Annette (with a side of brownies) May 31, 2011, 6:26 pm

    How heartbreaking, my thoughts and prayers are with Tonya and her family.

  • Shrinking mommy of 2 May 31, 2011, 6:30 pm

    Beautifully written. If you don’t mind, may I like this to my blog so possible others will get the word out about Tonya.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 10:00 am

      Of course! Thank you!

      • Shrinking mommy of 2 June 1, 2011, 12:36 pm

        already did! Hope it helps even if it is in a small way!

  • Katie May 31, 2011, 6:30 pm

    This post has my heart wrenching and truly opens up your eyes and makes you realize HOW PRECIOUS LIFE IS, and thank you for sharing this story, and I will pray for her and her family that she will come out of this strong.

  • Molly @ RDexposed May 31, 2011, 6:32 pm

    Ugh…so sad! I immediately thought of Lance’s book-It’s Not About The Bike!

  • Michal May 31, 2011, 6:34 pm

    I work with families coping with chronic illness daily, and sometimes it’s overwhelming. I really appreciate you giving us this glimpse into an individual and her amazing strength, and the chance to help Tonya and her family.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:59 am

      Thank you for doing such an important job!

  • Lee May 31, 2011, 6:36 pm

    I read this at work and cried. And then I read it at home and cried again. I will definitely donate.

  • Sam May 31, 2011, 6:37 pm

    Wow. This is a heartbreaking story but her attitude is really inspiring. A cancer party? first one i have heard of. I wish he the absolute best in her RECOVERY and will be donating ASAP!

  • Melanie May 31, 2011, 6:51 pm

    What I’m about to say is going to come across as incredibly cynical, and quite frankly it is. But, while I admire your efforts to support your neighbor I (as a potential donor) would be concerned about the lack of oversight in how these funds are used, and I think this is a completely legitimate concern. This is not to say that I believe Tonya would use these funds in an illicit manner, and she does acknowledge this in her post, but there appears to be no financial oversight with these funds will be used other then what she posted. The difference between donating to this cause as opposed to the other causes you have highlighted is that those organization are actual non-profits with some measure of required oversight as to how their donations are allocated. Call me jaded, but I’ve seen too many stories lately where money that is supposed to go towards a good cause is misused (what comes to my mind is the recent Greg Mortenson, “Three Cups of Tea” scandal). It’s unfortunate that the actions of a few have effected our sense of trust in the good works of others…but it’s the truth. Anyhow, I don’t expect all or any of you to agree with me, but I felt compelled to say something.

    • Melanie May 31, 2011, 6:54 pm

      Just noticed that I left out the word “‘how’ these funds will be used” and an extra ‘s’ on organizations!

      • CaitlinHTP May 31, 2011, 6:59 pm

        I agree with you that it is extremely unfortunate that people’s view of charity has been jaded by a few irresponsible individuals. The problem with donating towards large organizations with accountability is that the money rarely makes it down to the individuals who need help with basic needs on a day to day basis. I know that Tonya is planning to create a separate bank account to place the funds in and will only pay for medical needs through this fund so there’s no mixing between personal money and donated money. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know.

        • Melanie May 31, 2011, 8:50 pm

          That’s a good point you bring up. I think a lot of people like to know where exactly their money is going towards. Maybe she could outline some of these costs, such as:

          X is what it costs for one chemotherapy treatment
          Y is what it costs to feed a family of four for 1 week
          Z is what it costs to have a biopsy, etc.

          I think that’s a really effective strategy that a lot of organizations use when soliciting donations. Also, I’m sure that most of us are pretty ignorant about the what the individual costs of brain cancer treatments are. By providing some perspective into these costs it makes the solicitation for $100,000 seem less exorbitant and allows for more understanding.

        • CaitlinHTP May 31, 2011, 8:55 pm

          What a great idea. I’m going to do an update on her in a month or so and I’ll be sure to do that in the post.

    • Christena June 5, 2011, 9:17 am

      I don’t know – this kind-of makes me cringe a little. While I agree somewhat, AFTER I give a donation to an individual, I’m not comfortable asking for a report that “my” money is being used appropriately. If I were donating to an organization, it would be different, because I would be giving my money to an intermediate source. I would say if you are not comfortable donating to an individual due to lack of oversight, don’t do it. I don’t know that we should expect Tonya to provide that kind of reporting – it would likely not be the best use of her time right now.

      • Christena June 5, 2011, 9:21 am

        Melanie — I realize you have NOT donated yet, so my comment was entirely directed to you. It’s just a very sensitive situation….

        • Christena June 5, 2011, 9:26 am

          Goodness. I meant that my comment was not directed at you. Okay. Enough from me. 🙂

  • Lauren May 31, 2011, 7:10 pm

    I’ve never commented before, but this post completely moved me. My dad was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer almost a year ago. I can’t even imagine how this news must feel when you are so young (my dad is 55), but I truly believe God wouldn’t give someone something they couldn’t handle and that miracles do happen. I’ll pray for your neighbor. What a beautiful family.

  • Terri May 31, 2011, 7:22 pm

    OMG, As I sit at my computer with my 3 kidlets behind me…aged 8 months, 4 years, and 10 years, I cry. I am 28 years old (in 2 days) and I cannot fathom this. This woman has courage and everything I truly believe I would not at this point in her life! My prayers go out to this beautiful woman and her lovely family!

  • Allison May 31, 2011, 7:24 pm

    I’m praying for her family. Thank you for sharing their story. Just made a donation.

  • Kristi May 31, 2011, 7:30 pm

    This post… it makes you realize all that you take for granted. All of the little things we worry about, get made over…. those things don’t matter. What a courageous woman.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:58 am

      I agree 100% with this comment!

  • Zara May 31, 2011, 7:52 pm

    I just came across your post via Jasmine at Eat, Move and Write. Tonya’s story touched my heart and I’ll be sharing it on my blog to help in fundraising. I hope that Chemo helps and that the nasty little tumor will disappear forever. She’ll be in my thoughts and prayer and I hope you update us soon on her progress.

  • Britt Bowe May 31, 2011, 8:05 pm

    As a Team In Training alumni and a woman who is the same age as Tonya, I am incredibly moved by the story as I am sure anyone is who reads it. Good luck with the fundraising efforts!

  • Kristen @ The Concrete Runner May 31, 2011, 8:15 pm

    Tonya + her family will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers. Your very beautifully written story had me choking back tears as my family is dealing with a similar situation. My uncle (who is in his 60s) was diagnosed this past week with a massive brain tumor. They are not sure it is cancerous or operable yet, but it is impacting his vision and language. As difficult as it is to know a family member is dealing with a similar situation as Tonya’s, I just cannot even imagine being in my 30s with 2 kids and receive that diagnosis. How heartbreaking. She will most definitely be in my thoughts and prayers.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:58 am

      I am so sorry about your uncle. xoxoxoxoxoxoxo I will be praying for him too!

  • katie May 31, 2011, 8:20 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I hope my small donation can help to lead to BIG miracles for this family! I lost my mother 4 years ago to a brain tumor resulting from melanoma. We had many many wonderful years after she was diagnosed. God bless Tonya & her 3 little men.

    Now go kick some butt Tonya!!!

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:57 am

      I am so sorry about your mother – xoxo!

  • Lauren May 31, 2011, 8:28 pm

    This is one of the most moving things I have ever read. Tonya is an angel sent from God to show us all that we are a little less deserving of what we all have. May she continue to change people’s lives with her amazing story!! Thank you for passing this along Caitlin.

  • Kristen May 31, 2011, 8:28 pm

    I don’t have much but when I get paid Thursday, the first thing I’ll do is give what I can. God bless her and her family during this time of need.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:57 am

      You are wonderful

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife May 31, 2011, 8:30 pm

    very cool of you to do this! What an amazing woman 🙂

  • Kristen @ Random Ramblings May 31, 2011, 8:32 pm

    I know my small donation won’t get them too far, but I can already see that the blog community is coming together for their family. Thanks for sharing this story – a reminder of how precious life is.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:57 am

      Every little bit helps. Thank you!

  • Natalie May 31, 2011, 8:33 pm

    I just wanted to drop by and tell you how special this post was for me to read. It was expressed beautifully and both you and Tonya are such inspirations to all..

  • Monica May 31, 2011, 8:35 pm

    “Holding those glasses, I realized so much of life is about losses and gains. It is about health and illness. It is about an uncertain future and the possibilities you see when you look at a young child. Life can be about losing faith; it can be about finding faith. It can be about what is taken from you or what you claim back. It’s love and despair all rolled into one.

    Life is tending the flowers and fighting back the weeds.”

    -You couldn’t have said it any better, for such a bittersweet story, there is always hope. My thoughts will definitely be with your neighbor and her family as they push through this. How fortunate the world is to have big hearted people like yourself who use their resources to help others. We should all be so fortunate to have someone like that in our lives. 🙂

  • Julissa May 31, 2011, 8:59 pm

    I’m another reader who never comments, but I felt compelled to donate (and comment) after reading this. Thank you so much for sharing this heartbreaking story, and please keep us updated on Tonya’s progress. It’s beautiful and inspiring how you’re using your blog as a way to help this family, and I bet so many of your readers will not hesitate to donate!

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:55 am

      thank you for reading and commenting, julissa!

  • Macrae May 31, 2011, 9:00 pm

    Beautifully written. You are a wonderful friend to spread her message of faith and tragedy. Thank you for revealing this story to your readers.

  • Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet May 31, 2011, 9:05 pm

    This was such a moving post. I don’t even know what I would do or say if someone I knew told me she was diagnosed with cancer, but you give us a great example.

    I’m certain that Tonya greatly appreciates everything that you’re doing, and with the support of the blog community, she should realize that so many people are thinking of her and wishing her a healthy and quick recovery.

  • Annie May 31, 2011, 9:22 pm

    I wanted to pass along some information about a non-profit organization that may be able to offer some small support for your neighbor. “Cleaning for a Reason” is a group that offers a monthly cleaning service for 4 months while women are undergoing treatment for cancer. The website is: http://www.cleaningforareason.org/index.html

    I have had no personal experience with this group, but I hope that it would provide your neighbor with more to time to focus on her family and her journey through treatment. My thoughts are with her!

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:54 am

      THIS. IS. AWESOME. Thank you!

  • Shari May 31, 2011, 9:25 pm

    Oh goodness … I don’t even know what to say after reading that. No words seem enough. Sending many good thoughts, healing vibes, and prayers to Tonya. It certainly sounds like she has the strength and determination to fight this!

  • Elaine May 31, 2011, 9:36 pm

    This was such a well written post. I love a woman who hears such terrible news and decides to have a party to celebrate life. She is a true inspiration!

  • Maren May 31, 2011, 9:40 pm

    Hi Caitlin. This story moved me so much. I lost a close friend last August to brain and spinal tumors and I can’t even imagine the bills that will be piling up. That should be the least of their worries, though, so it’s great that you were able to spread the word SO quickly through your blog!

    I donated through my bf’s account, so my donation says “Nate”, but it’s my profile picture 🙂 I also called my mom, Barb Ring, and walked her through how to donate! She is a little more well-off than me, so she donated $25! So glad to be able to help, and hopefully when I have a little more money, I’ll be able to help, too!

    God bless!

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:53 am

      Thanks to you and your mom!

  • Heather May 31, 2011, 9:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing this post with the world Caitlin. Sometimes I need a reminder to stop, take a deep breathe and be thankful for all that I have. This post made we do just that. You never know when God will give you a challenge that not only makes you stronger but also gives you the opportunity to witness to many others. Tonya, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Amy May 31, 2011, 9:55 pm

    Wow…just wow…there are no words that can accurately describe the admiration and the heartbreak that I’m feeling simultaneously right now.

    Thank for Caitlin, for doing this for Tanya.

    My grandpa was diagnosed with cancer (not brain) several years ago. He was also told it was inoperable. Radiation and chemotherapy extended his life, but in the end, he lost his battle with cancer. I miss him every single day, but the strength he displayed throughout his battle reassured me – and Tanya’s attitude mirrors that strength.

    I will pray for Tanya and her family. Thank you once again.

    • Amy May 31, 2011, 9:58 pm

      *Thank you Caitlin, not “Thank for Caitlin”. Sorry, I was tearing up as I wrote.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:52 am

      I’m sorry about your grandpa. xoxox!!! i appreciate your kinds thoughts for tonya!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit May 31, 2011, 10:01 pm

    This is unbelievable. My heart goes out to Tonya and her family (which is SO beautiful- they look amazingly happy in those pictures!). Thank you for taking the time and energy to do something to help.

  • Kath May 31, 2011, 10:02 pm

    Oh my god – Tonya and Kevin. I wondered if the neighbor you mentioned might be them, but I am so shocked and saddened to read why. Thank you so much for supporting them.

  • Robin McCormack May 31, 2011, 10:03 pm

    Donation made to help your neighbor. Her story helped me FIND some missing perspective today!!

  • Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food May 31, 2011, 10:05 pm

    Caitlin, this is an absolutely amazing post. You are so wonderful for wanting to help Tonya, and I can’t blame you…she sounds like an incredible woman. I am heading over to her page to donate now. Thank you so much for you kindness.

  • Georgia May 31, 2011, 10:35 pm

    I used to follow your blog (for about a year or two). I just saw a link back over here. This is a good post and a good thing you’re doing. Very good. Thanks for sharing and for doing what you’re doing for her.

  • E May 31, 2011, 11:22 pm

    This just makes my heart hurt…

  • Jen May 31, 2011, 11:30 pm

    I’m totally sitting here crying right now. Wow. I’ve always thought you have a huge heart, Caitlin, but this is just epic…you friggin rock. Tonya and her family will be in my prayers, as will you & your hubby…you’re all just amazing <3

  • Lindsey @ Morningstar Project May 31, 2011, 11:31 pm

    Beautifully written blog post about an even more beautiful woman. I am amazed by the courage others can show in the face of fear. Thank you so much for sharing this story, inspiration for us all.

  • kara t. June 1, 2011, 12:02 am

    Thank you for this moving post.

  • Chelsea June 1, 2011, 12:33 am

    I was brought here thanks to Fitnessista…I’m so glad she did because this is such a touching post. I started tearing up 🙁 I can’t even begin to imagine what that family must be going through right now…May God be with them forever and always <3 They are in my prayers tonight.

  • Charlene June 1, 2011, 12:41 am

    I wish the absolute best for her. Cancer is such a difficult journey that can be beaten, and I know that with all of the incredible positive energy she can do this. Stay as strong as you have been sister!!! You’re in all of our thoughts!!!

  • Jamie@everydaydolce June 1, 2011, 2:29 am

    Oh my…I will definitely donate and keep this beautiful family in my prayers. Thanks for this post Caitlin!

  • Andrea June 1, 2011, 3:51 am

    I read your blog daily, thought don’t often comment – Google Reader is a bit inconvenient that way – but I felt compelled to write, though I’m not even sure what to say!

    I was touched so deeply I found tears welling up in me when I read this story. What do you say? How would I even begin to cope with such a situation? Where do you start? So good of you to take what action you can, instead of being paralysed by anger, sadness and all those others crushing feelings!

    “Life is tending the flowers and fighting back the weeds.”

    I think this will be a new mantra for me. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:51 am

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  • Penélope June 1, 2011, 5:22 am

    Praying, donating and spreading the word in process. You’ll get through this Tonya!!! Thanks Caitlin for such an amazing and moving post.

  • Brittni Mattocks June 1, 2011, 8:36 am

    Truly an inspirational and life changing story. Donated what I could and hope the small donation and strong prayers will help you every step of the way!

  • Sonali June 1, 2011, 8:39 am

    caitlin – you are making SUCH a difference, thank you for this inspiring and beautiful post. we will of course be donating to tonya and her family! xo

  • Jamie @ A Healthy J.D. June 1, 2011, 8:53 am

    Caitlin, you never cease to amaze me. Thank you for sharing this with us. I lost my grandfather and a 31 year old friend to cancer last year and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I donated to Tonya and her family and I hope you keep us updated.

    • Caitlin June 1, 2011, 9:50 am

      I am so sorry about your grandfather and friend. XOXO

  • Amanda June 1, 2011, 9:44 am

    Caitlin, Thanks for connecting your friends and allowing your blog friends to help your neighbor. I made a donation to Tonya’s page, and I will send a sweet care package to her as well!

  • Amanda June 1, 2011, 10:44 am

    The response in donations is incredible! I really wish I was in a position to donate more, but I am going to spread the word like wildfire. Thank you for sharing and asking for all of our support.

  • Sara @ OurDogBuffy June 1, 2011, 11:15 am

    My prayers are with Tonya as is a small donation. Keep us posted. She and her family sound like wonderful people. Prayers and hugs!

  • Julie June 1, 2011, 11:28 am

    Oh my god, I cannot even imagine that kind of news after some migranes, and to hear it’s inoperable. Wow, what an amazing person she must be to feel so positive to throw a party to celebrate her life thus far. I hope she is strong and a fighter for her beautiful boys. I am in tears reading about her story!

  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat June 1, 2011, 12:47 pm

    I wanted to donate the second I read this – what a great way to tap the blogging community for a worthy cause.

  • Lisa E. June 1, 2011, 1:03 pm

    Wishing Tonya the best. just made my donation. Thanks.

  • Kim June 1, 2011, 1:21 pm

    I just donated too it felt like the least i could do. I am a mother to three young children and can’y imagine what she must be feeling.

  • Lindsey June 1, 2011, 1:50 pm

    I can only offer prayers as I only have $9.00 in my checking account right now. However, prayers are powerful and priceless.

  • Jennifer R. June 1, 2011, 1:52 pm

    I have good news — there is a doctor in Texas that is having success at treating brain cancer. My stepfather died 3 years ago from brain cancer and I found this doctor but he was too ill to travel then. http://www.burzynskiclinic.com/

    Also, I would highly recommend reading “Knockout” — excellent book by Suzanne Somers about knocking out cancer. She interviews doctors that are having success treating cancer — amazing information for anyone — some use alternative with conventional treatments. Check your local library (ours had it). Dr. Burzynski is also featured in this book. xxoo

    Tonya, lifting up you and your family in prayer during this time. Prayers for wisdom for the doctors during your treatment.

  • Genevieve Davis June 1, 2011, 3:04 pm

    What a great post and an absolutely wonderful thing for you to share with all your readers!

  • Sarah G June 1, 2011, 4:34 pm

    Just made my donation 🙂 Tonya is full of light. I admire her strength, sense of humor, and courage. Wow, what a woman for us all to look up to and emulate!

  • Natasha June 1, 2011, 4:57 pm

    Just donated $15.00 to this sweet family, I’m in awe of their strength.

  • Katharine June 1, 2011, 5:04 pm

    Incredibly moved by this story. I work with cancer patients and it’s easy for me to get into the routine of everything. It was touching to read your post and her page. I donated $40 but wish it could be more!

  • amy June 1, 2011, 5:38 pm

    this post is so well-written and beautiful. my heart aches for her and her family. i’m always impressed with how you use your blog, and blog following, to sincerely help others. i will donate in honor of both of you.

  • Lindsey Riddle June 1, 2011, 8:27 pm

    I, too, am a frequent reader who does not comment. But, this is too touching a story to not thank you for your efforts. I will be sending light and love to this family, as well as you during your triathlon. What a lovely, compassionate, thoughtful post. Thank you.

  • Angela June 1, 2011, 11:54 pm

    My husbands brother died of a SUPER aggressive form of brain cancer that doubles in size every eleven days if untreated. And recently a man in our church was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer but is surviving! It is a rough road to take. Thank you for posting this. I couldn’t donate much but was able to share $10. Thank you.

    • CaitlinHTP June 2, 2011, 8:30 am

      I am very sorry about your brother-in-law 🙁

  • Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) June 2, 2011, 9:00 am

    You are so amazing for doing this for such a deserving person! Thank you so much for being such a kind soul. I don’t have much money to spare, but I donated what I could- the $10 I could have spent for lunch out; because I know she deserves it more than me. xoxo

  • Elise June 2, 2011, 10:15 am

    Since cancer diagnosis always hits a note with me, my cousin/godmother had non-hodgkins and unfortunately didn’t survive, I am always there to help support any cause/situation related. I’ve donated $20, as much as I can give as a graduate student, though a part of me truly wanted to empty my small checking account, as some things in life are greater than knowing you can pay next months rent. We seriously worry about such trivial things in today’s world, when there are much bigger things out there. Wishing Tonya and her family the best.

    Oh, and side note, sloppy joes and chili’s freeze quite nicely! As do soups and stews, in case you’re making more freezer meals for the family. Living on my own, I usually make huge portions, and freeze half the dish for a busy day.

  • Kim June 2, 2011, 11:05 am

    Oh, my….I will keep Tanya and her family in my prayers. Cancer sucks. My mom and husband have both had bouts with cancer and have fortunately survived. I can’t fathom having an inoperable brain tumor. 🙁

  • Sarah AJ June 2, 2011, 11:20 am

    I’m also a 32 year old mother of two, and cannot even begin to imagine what Tanya and her family are going through. Thank you for sharing her story with us and giving us an opportunity to help in a small way. It’s amazing what can be accomplished through blogging!

    • Sarah AJ June 2, 2011, 11:21 am


  • Amykinz @ Foodie 4 Healing June 3, 2011, 12:27 am

    Caitlin, you handled the situation and wrote about it beautifully. I will be passing this along every way possible. I wish we could financially afford to help them out, but I can’t. Spreading the word & lots of prayer will have to suffice. You are an amazing neighbor/friend to fight for them! And I agree, I am amazed at Tonya’s demenor & attitude. I can’t say I would’ve reacted the same way.

  • Selena June 3, 2011, 1:22 pm

    Praying for Tonya…donated $10, not much but every little bit helps I hope.

  • Taimi June 3, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Definitely crying at work after reading this. My heart goes out to Tonya and her family. My grandmother also has a brain tumor doctors found just weeks ago. So tough. Thank you for sharing her story! I don’t have much to donate but I hope it helps a little bit. Stay strong Tonya!!!

  • Jacalyn June 5, 2011, 7:34 pm

    Please recommend MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to Tonya. I work there and have seen the most amazing treatments. We have the gamma laser that may be a possibility for her. I have seen many patients like her with incredible results.

    My prayers are with her and her family.

  • Jennifer R. June 12, 2011, 9:09 pm

    Caitlin, would you please let Tonya know — on mercola.com you can view the Burzynski movie free up to June 13 — it’s all about curing cancer, mostly of the brain. It’s one hour and 48 minutes long — eye opening!! thanks so much — she’s still in my prayers. 🙂

  • Mike September 2, 2012, 11:38 am

    Glad your getting exercise and enjoying the nice weather.

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