MERIDIANVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Tiffany Snead Schwantes may not look like it, but she is battling for her life.
"I have stage IV Cholangiocarcinoma, which is also known as primary bile duct cancer. I was diagnosed in October of 2011, so it's been about a year. I started having rapid weight loss - 50 pounds in a month - and I wasn't able to eat," she said.
She said there was also a small, moderate pain just under her rib cage. A trip to the ER led to scans which showed lesions in the liver - and a six month prognosis, 12 with treatment.
But she is beating the odds.
She said there are few symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose.
"Most people present with Jaundice or severe itching, yellow skin. Thankfully, I didn't have any of that, but it was still in late stages," she said.
Tiffany had 21 rounds of chemotherapy and is still taking it.
Because this disease is so rare, her specialist is located at M.D. Anderson's in Houston, Texas.
"We have to pay for plane flights. We have to pay for hotels. We have to pay for food," said Schwantes.
Tiffany can't work right now and donations are helping. One fund raising idea involved Tiffany skydiving out of a plane, but that idea was nixed after she found she may be placed on a transplant list and they won't let her jump.
"The jump is still going on, but my friend is having to do it for me," she said.
She said Christina Stolaas is a prayer buddy who is taking a leap of faith on September 15 at Skydive Alabama in Cullman.
"We've raised a little over $1300 so far, and our goal is $5,000. We would like to go over that and, obviously, we are not meeting that goal right now," said Schwantes.
That goal, just like the expenses, will increase if she gets the transplant. Hope and faith in this cancer battle center around the family.
"My son is 6, my daughter is 3, and I do what I do for them so they can have a mom," she said.
She's a mom with strength, determination, and so much love.
If you would like to help Tiffany, please donate in her name to the Flint River Baptist Church in Meridianville by calling (256)828-3692.