Attitude can go a long way in life and that's especially true when it comes to dealing with a life-threatening illness. A diagnosis of cancer changed one heartland woman's approach to living.
Cheryl Stevens says, "A girlfriend of mine said 'you're the only person I know who has fun at chemotherapy.'"
That attitude represents a big change from when doctors first diagnosed Cheryl with breast cancer.
"I was very depressed," she says. "I was in the darkest hole you could ever imagine. I wasn't functioning. I was going to work but my focus was not on life. All I was thinking about was death."
Her brother-in-law sent buck teeth and an ugly hat to boost her spirits, never imagining what he would start. Stevens ran with the idea, picking a different theme every week to help lift the spirits of those at Methodist's Estabrook Cancer Center.
Not only does she dress up, she prods friends and family to do the same.
"Oh, everybody loves to play," she says. "You just need to put on a silly hat."
Wherever Cheryl goes, smiles follow and no one's exempt from the fun.
At first, the silliness gave Stevens the courage to keep going. Then she realized the effect on patients and staff.
Registered Nurse Ashley Groene says, "It helps all of us stay upbeat on a day that's kind of down. She comes in and the whole room changes and you can see it on everyone's faces."
Dr. Stephen Lemon says, "She reminds us every time: think of the moment; enjoy what you have; keep working hard but don't take yourself too seriously."
Cheryl says, "It's really hard to stop unless something stops you, and that's what cancer's done for me. A wake-up call. Whatever time I have left, I think it's a lot. I'm going to enjoy it and help others enjoy it."
Cheryl Stevens had her second to last chemotherapy session on Wednesday. She went as a Chia Pet, dying her short shag of re-grown hair green.