Sherry Matthews had just moved from North Carolina to New York and begun a temp job when she received devastating news. The 43-year-old went in for her annual mammogram and learned she had stage three breast cancer. The unexpected and life-changing news shocked Matthews.
"The doctor said, 'You know, if I were you, I wouldn't think about goin' anywhere else right now. I'd think about gettin' this taken care of,'' Matthews said. "It's something you never want to hear, that you're gonna lose your breast and that your lymph nodes are all cancerous."
The hospital found a job for her at Hope Lodge , which provides free lodging, counseling and encouragement to cancer patients.
Matthews arrived at the center in April and was scared about undergoing chemotherapy. Six months later, Matthews said the road had been tough.
"It's been difficult in — in a lot of ways," she said. "The hardest part is accepting it and dealing with the depression that I've gone through.
"It's something that doesn't just go away. And I think people have a misconception about that once you finish your chemos, or once you finish -- I haven't started radiation -- but once you finish radiation, it's all gonna be over with," Matthews said.
Yet even during her darkest times, Matthews said the Hope Lodge, with its staff and fellow patients, aided her because everyone fights for one another.
"I mean, Hope Lodge has been a godsend for me. I mean, this is my second family," she said.
She's learned to overcome tough times by volunteering at the lodge, participating in patient activities, finding inspiration in small things like a smile. Family members and friends send her care packages to show their love and lift her spirits.
Some even flew to New York to join her in the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk. At first, she felt too weak, but then she crossed the finish line with pride.
Now her goal is completing radiation and treatment.
"You can't look too far ahead. And you can't — you can't really look back. You just have to stay focused," Matthews said.