BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Cancer is a tough battle for any patient and it’s never fair. A Boardman woman’s fight against a rare form called thymoma is in its third decade.
Mary Pappas was diagnosed with thymoma when she was 23 years old.
“She’s my hero,” said Steve Pappas, her husband.
Now at 58, Mary is battling the disease for the eighth time.
“This stupid thing just kept coming back, and coming back and kept coming back,” she said.
Thymic tumors are attacking Mary’s body. She’s had tumors in several places over the past 34 years.
“All you can do is follow your doctors and mostly talk to God, talk to the Lord,” Mary said.
This time around, her body can’t handle the radiation again.
She gets weekly blood transfusions but doctors don’t have a plan. They’ve never seen this type of cancer persist and return like it has for Mary.
“I’m just praying, and praying, and praying and believing God is going to do something,” she said.
Her community is doing something, too.
There is a new medication doctors can try, but the cost is extremely high. So people are hosting fundraisers to help. There’s one this Saturday at New Life Church in Poland.
“I am very, very humbled by the kindness of other people,” Mary said.
Even in her decades-long fight against this disease, she has never given up her smile or compassion for others.
“In my book, Mary is a hero because she’s lived such a challenging life and done it with such grace and lived a very full life,” Steve said.
A full life she will keep fighting for while spreading lessons of hope and love.
“We take too much for granted,” she said. “Until you’re faced with mortality, you don’t see it all too clear.”
Through 34 years of fighting for her life, Mary sees things clearly and inspires others to do the same.
“She doesn’t just survive, though. She thrives,” Steve said.
The next fundraiser for Mary is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at New Life Church (2250 E. Western Reserve Rd., Poland). There will be crafts and goods for sale, as well as food and raffles.
There will be another fundraiser on September 5 at Kravitz Deli on Belmont Avenue in Liberty. It’s from 6 to 9 p.m. and costs $25 per person, with half of that going to the Pappas family.