In August 2018, Tessi's life was abruptly interrupted when she learned she had cancer. Tessi was diagnosed with Stage 3 Aggressive/ Stage 4 Rhabdomyosarcoma, a very rare and often deadly cancer that is usually found only in children. It is so rare, in fact, that Tessi's doctor had never even heard of it.
Tessi was referred to MD Anderson in Houston, TX for treatment. As a single mom living in Tennessee, traveling to Houston would require time away from her 9-year-old son. She was faced with two options to access the care she needed “drive or fly commercially. Driving would take 13 hours each direction, and that didn't include stops. In order to fly, Tessi would need to drive 1½ hours to the nearest commercial airport and pay $900 for a roundtrip ticket to Houston.
Tessi knew she would receive the best treatment in Houston. She elected to fly commercially in order to spend more time with her son. Throughout Tessi's diagnosis and treatment, her faith in God kept her positive and gave her the strength to keep going. During the first year, she incurred $8,000 in travel expenses for treatment.
To help with the financial burden, a friend threw a benefit in Tessi's honor. A complete stranger attended the benefit and introduced her to Angel Flight South Central. The rest, as they say, is history.
Angel Flight pilots have been able to help Tessi travel to and from treatment several times now, lessening her financial burden and the time she spends away from her son. And, the flights renewed her love for flying.
I had taken lessons to get my private pilot license because I've always loved aviation, but that was put on hold when I got my diagnosis.
On her flights to and from treatment, Tessi was able to get back in the cockpit. During one trip home, she flew with David Valentine, an Angel Flight volunteer pilot who has his instructor and commercial license. He offered to let Tessi fly for a portion of the trip from Houston to Jackson, Mississippi. Talk about a welcome distraction! Every mission leg has been special for Tessi.
After her recent Angel Flight, Tessi received some exciting news, which she shared with us. THIS GIRL IS OFFICIALLY IN RECOVERY! Cancer-free me! No more treatments! Thank you to all of my prayer warriors for lifting me up and the good thoughts, wishes, support, and love that my family and I have received! God is so good.
We are so thrilled for Tessi! She will continue traveling to MD Anderson for quarterly check-ups, but she is grateful to be done with the treatment. To encourage others going through cancer treatment, Tessi has chronicled her remarkable story on a YouTube channel, which you can find here.