7/22/2014 5:22 PM
by Karen Franklin
ANSTED - Tera Chappell likes to show off her two-week old tattoo, a piece of art she got two years shy of 50. It's a butterfly with the body of a pink cancer ribbon because Tera is a survivor.
"It's not a punishment," she told WOAY. "Just something that I had to go through. It's my valley that I had to pass through to get to that mountain, so I'm just passing right through. You don't have a choice sometimes.
Tera was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer about a year ago. Since then, she's underwent chemotherapy in Huntington, radiation in South Charleston, and she continues to get treatment every three weeks back in Huntington.
"I was not going to let cancer beat me," she said. "I had to raise my children, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to fight. Fight as much as I can. You think, 'How am I going to pay for it, how am I going to work?' It's very difficult, but then you just got to suck it up and go. You don't have a choice. I wanted to see my children grow up and get married, and I want to have grandchildren. So I'm fighting it. It's not about you anymore. It's not about you. It's about your family, and I'm not going to die from cancer. I'm not going to do it."
Laynie, her 21-year-old daughter, is a senior at West Virginia University. It was with her support, the heart of her 16-year-old son, Eric, the love of Dale, her husband of 25 years, and the strength of her sisters that Tera is now cancer free.
"There's many times when I just wanted to stay in bed, and I thought, 'I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to stay in this bed and feel sorry for myself, so you just get up and go," she said. "You have to keep going. You can't let it get you. You just can't."
Her duaghter has always been by her side.
"She's an inspiration," she said through tears. "Just she's amazing. I don't know what I would have done without her."
Chemotherapy ran Tera $65,000 a month. She received it for half a year. Radiation cost as much as $20,000. But one thing she missed much more than money was her hair.
"You gotta make fun of it," she said. "You have to have some humor in what goes wrong, so they did a mohawk, and we took pictures, and she shaved my head and each one of my sisters got different color lipstick and but lip marks -- kissed my head and everything."
Laynie knew she'd be a survivor.
"She's a tank if you haven't noticed, and we knew that from the beginning," Laynie said. "We told her that from the first day that if anybody could do it, it's her."
Cancer is prominent in Tera's family. It's the reason she started regular mammograms at the age of 40, and she wants other women to get them at even younger ages so they can make it through life like her.
"I feel like we can do anything now because it's just one of those things," Laynie said. "You see everybody go through it, and you don't realize that it can really happen to you."