WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A mother in Minnesota was diagnosed with inoperable cancer the same day her husband died of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease (MND) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
- The 38-year-old received the devastating news that she had adenocarcinoma on June 16, 2017, while she was on the phone arranging his husband’s funeral.
- Tessie Sylvester died on May 1, two years after she was diagnosed, leaving behind her two young children who were adopted by her sister.
Tessie Sylvester, a mother of two passed away on May 1, about two years after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer on the same day her husband, John, died from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The 38-year-old mom received the heartbreaking news that she had adenocarcinoma on June 16, 2017. Her doctor told her the news while she was on the phone with a funeral director just a few hours after John died at the age of 44.
“I clicked over and that’s when the doctor said that it was cancer and that we needed to get going with treatment,” Sylvester told PEOPLE that time “I sat there with [John’s body] for a second just crying. Then my parents came over and I think I just went into shock. I cried and screamed for a little bit. Mostly, I was just so scared of what was going to happen to my little boys.”
Two weeks before she died, Sylvester’s sister Jenny Halverson adopted her two children — Gus, 8, and Freddy, 7, according to the Star Tribune.
“Tessie’s greatest wish was that her boys would be raised in a home full of love, laughter, and so much fun!” Halverson wrote on the GoFundMe page created for the two boys.
“We sat down and she said, ‘Jenny, if I die promise you’ll be a mom to my boys,’ and I said, ‘Of course I will, Tessie, but we’re gonna fight this. We’re not going to think about anything of this other stuff,’” Halverson added. “I needed her to be OK.”
Sylvester, a dentist, met her late husband in 2002 when they both coached a youth soccer league.
Her five siblings and parents immediately stepped up to help, and an earlier GoFundMe page raised $330,000 for the family, PEOPLE wrote.
“It’s not just the donations, but the people who comment and tell me stories of survivorship and send me their prayers,” Sylvester told the magazine in 2017. “It’s overwhelming and humbling.”