FAIRMONT - What began as a bad headache for Amy Koons last month has turned into a hard battle against cancer.
Carl Wade, her boyfriend of more than 20 years, remembers how her headache lasted a week and continued to get worse.
"All she was doing was going to work, then going to sleep," he said.
Carl Wade and Amy Koons
One day, when he called her and she failed to answer, he asked a family friend to check on her.
"I got a call from a doctor asking me to come to the hospital," Wade said. "She had been brought to the hospital and they told me she was very sick."
Not only was Koons suffering from a cancerous brain tumor, but the cancer was already at an advanced stage, located in her lungs and liver as well.
Surgeons operated on Koons' brain tumor after she was life-flighted out of Fairmont to Mankato. Wade and the entire family, including the couple's sons Lucas, 17, and Colin, 13, went to Mankato and waited.
"From the get-go, we were warned of the risk," Wade said. "They warned us they didn't know what she would be like, or if she would make it off the table. We did a lot of praying."
Koons was comatose when doctors began the operation. She was able to leave the hospital four days later.
"I remember when she woke up, her hand reached up for the IV tubes and she said, 'All this for a headache?'" Wade recalled with a smile.
But the news remained grim. Doctors have given Koons about a year to live, or six to eight months without treatment.
"We started making a bucket list," Wade said. "The first is for us to finally get married. We've been together for 20 years, and our sons would like to see us get married. Second is to take a trip, because we've never been on a family vacation."
From there came a few random acts of kindness toward the family. Wade's new boss will allow them to vacation at his condo in Sarasota, Fla., while another work acquaintance donated $1,500 to the couple to take the children to Disneyworld once they get there.
"There are so many nice people out there," Wade said. "It's wild how God has put certain people in our lives ... All I've ever asked for was prayer. I think that is how Amy made it through her surgery."
Despite the odds, Wade said Koons remains positive and determined not to give up.
"She's convinced she's got too much to do to die," Wade said. "Even through she's not working right now, she thinks she's got too much to do ... She's one of the nicest girls you could ever meet. I wouldn't wish this on anybody. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. I've been upfront with the boys from the time she went into surgery. We're all scared because we don't know what's going to happen."
A benefit to help the family is being held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Eagles Club in Fairmont. Along with a silent auction, there will be live music from the Mudd Band from 1-4 p.m.
Monetary donations to the family can be deposited at US Bank at 103 N. Park St. in Fairmont.