A Minnesota mother-of-two, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer the same day her husband died of ALS, has passed away after a two-year battle.
Tessie Sylvester was making funeral arrangements for her husband, John, the day he died in June 2017 when she received a call from her doctor in Minneapolis.
Over the phone, she told Tessie that she had stage 4 adenocarcinoma, a cancer of the glands that secrete mucus, and her prognosis was bleak.
Earlier this month, after a two-year battle and several rounds of chemotherapy, the 38-year-old passed away, leaving behind their two young children.
According to a GoFundMe page, the two boys are being adopted by Tessie’s sister Jenny and her husband Chris, who have three children of their own.
John Sylvester, 44, of Minneapolis, Minnesota was diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease in 2012. Pictured: John (second from right) with his wife Tessie and their two children, Gus, eight (right), and Freddy, seven (left)
He died in June 2017 and his wife, Tessie (pictured), received a call the same day from her doctor telling her she had cancer
Adenocarcinoma is a very common cancer, while ALS is a rare disorder, affecting around 30,000 people in the US.
John and Tessie met in 2001 when they both coached summer youth soccer, according to a GoFundMe page.
They married in 2004 and John worked as a coach for high school soccer teams while Tessie practiced dentistry.
The couple had two sons: eight-year-old Gus and seven-year-old Freddy.
In an interview with TODAY in 2017, Tessie said that John began losing ability in his right hand about five years ago.
After several visits to a neurologists, who ran many tests, John was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS.
ALS is neurodegenerative disease, which progressively damages nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
It also goes by the names of motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease after the New York Yankees player who was diagnosed in 1939.
Over time, sufferers lose the ability to walk, talk, dress, chew, write and breathe.
The average life expectancy from the time of diagnosis averages between two and five years.
Tessie had gone in for a routine check-up in May 2017 when her doctor noticed that her blood work seemed unusual. This eventually led to a biopsy and a diagnosis of stage 4 adenocarcinoma. Pictured, left and right: John with his two sons
Adenocarcinoma is cancer that forms in the body’s mucus-secreting glands, but it had metastasized to Tessie’s liver and lymph nodes. Pictured: Tessie, far right, with John and their two sons
Gradually, John lost use of both of his arms and his legs, leaving him confined to a wheelchair.
John still retained the ability to speak and would watch his sons play soccer.
‘He always said he wasn’t going to be that parent on the sideline, yelling, but he was’ Tessie told TODAY.
In June 2017, Tessie said that John, 44, woke up one and told he believed he was in the final hours of his life and asked to hold her hand.
‘He told me he felt like that was it. That day was the day,’ Tessie saud.
She was making arrangements with the funeral director, when she received a call from her doctor.
In May 2017, Tessie had gone in for a routine check-up when her doctor noticed that her blood work seemed unusual.
About two weeks later, a CT scan and an MRI showed an abnormal growth on her live, which was biopsied, reported Still Kickin.
The next day, on June 16 – the day John died – the test results came back: stage 4 adenocarcinoma.
‘Part of me literally must have been in shock,’ she told TODAY. ‘I tried to kind of swallow what I had been given.’
Adenocarcinoma is cancer that forms in the body’s mucus-secreting glands.
For two years, Tessie underwent chemotherapy, but she passed away on May 1. Pictured: Tessie with Freddy (right) and Gus (left)
The couple’s two children, Gus and Freddy, are being adopted by Tessie’s sister and her husband. Pictured: Tessie with her sons on the soccer field where she and John met
It is responsible for most cancers of the colon, esophagus, lung, pancreas and prostate, according to Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Because the cancer can occur in several areas of the body, there is no single list of symptoms of the disease.
Depending on where the tumor is and how large it is, treatment options can include surgical remove, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy.
The cancer had metastasized to Tessie’s liver and lymph nodes, meaning surgery wasn’t an option.
For two years, she underwent chemotherapy. But, on May 1, Tessie passed away.
Gus and Freddy are being adopted by Tessie’s sister Jenny and her husband Chris, who have three children of their own.
‘Gus, Freddy, Oscar, Edith, & Hazel are finding comfort and love in one another as brothers & sisters, as well as in the love of their Moms & Dads here in both body and in spirit,’ a post on GoFundMe reads.
Money is currently being raised to cover Tessie’s funeral expenses and for living expenses for her two sons. So far, more than $11,000 has been raised out of a $150,000 goal.