Judith Selby couldn't afford a doctor when she first noticed the lump in her breast.
Her family lost its health insurance in 2003 following an injury at work that left her husband, Wayne, disabled.
She eventually sought a diagnosis last fall that confirmed her fears.
Selby had Stage 3 breast cancer. She was diagnosed in December.
By February, Selby, 57, was told she could no longer watch the five children she babysat during the day at her Streetsboro home because of the risk of contracting an infection.
“It was impossible for me to keep my job,” Selby said. “That was a big part of my life, watching them. Giving that up was hard.”
Selby's side effects from chemotherapy were particularly intense.
She would have treatments on Wednesdays through the summer. On Thursdays, she'd return to the hospital to have fluids and nutrition put into her body because she had no interest in eating.
The chemotherapy caused burns on her feet. The treatment would often leave her so exhausted that after arriving at home, she would sleep in the car until she had the strength to get inside.
Months later, the effects of chemotherapy are beginning to wear off, and a mastectomy has been ruled out -- for now. Selby now awaits the start of a decades-worth of hormonal therapy.
She said she worries about the toll her cancer has on her husband and two daughters.
"They've been very supportive," she said, "but it can be scary not knowing what the outcome will be."
Additional support has came from an unlikely place -- the Kent Youth Football and Cheerleading Association.
In an effort to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Tiffany Marchette, a cheerleading coach, got in touch with Amy Kuss, training and event coordinator for the Kent-Ravenna Walmart.
With support from store manager Thomas Christy, Walmart secured a $1,000 grant for the group to support its youth program and fund a variety of pink breast cancer awareness gear from hats to socks and wristbands the kids will wear during their games on Saturday and hand out to fans.
"I wanted to show the kids how important it is to get involved," Marchette said. "But we didn't want to just wear pink this month. I wanted to do something more than that."
Marchette learned about Selby through Kuss, her friend.
The organization has been selling pink balloons donated by RSVP Food and Party store in Stow to collect funds for Selby to offset her medical bills, which are only partly supported by financial aid through her Cleveland hospital.
"These are young children who are going out there and getting involved, and you don't see that very often," said Kuss, a breast cancer survivor whose disease is in remission following a double mastectomy.
The group will sell the balloons during Saturday's football games outside Davey Elementary School. The first game begins at 10 a.m. During halftime of the varsity game, which starts at 2:30 p.m., Selby will join the team on field for a launch of the balloons.
The youth organization is also having a 50/50 raffle that day with proceeds being combined with funds from Walmart for a donation to the American Cancer Society.
Selby said she was "overwhelmed" when she learned of what the youth group was doing for her.
"It's unbelievable how a community can come together to help people in need," Selby said. "It's really something to see there are people out there who are generous and willing to help people in their time of need."
A Judith Selby Fund has been set up at Huntingon Bank anyone can donate to Selby's expenses through.
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Facebook: Jeremy Nobile, Record-Courier