Hours after the death of Tessie Sylvester's husband, the grieving mother of two received a phone call that doubled her heartbreak as she learned she had cancer.
“I just went into shock,” Sylvester, of Minnesota, told InsideEdition.com. “That’s all I remember.”
The 36-year-old was making arrangements with a funeral director on June 16 when she noticed her doctor calling on the other line.
Sylvester answered the call and received more devastating news: She was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a cancerous tumor.
Only one thought immediately came to mind: Her sons, 6-year-old Gus and 5-year-old Freddy.
“There’s the part of me that’s just so scared, not for myself but just for my boys,” Sylvester said. “They can’t lose their mom and their dad."
She added: “I am missing John but I feel like somehow, he must be with me."
Sylvester met John in 2002 when they both coached soccer. He was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2010.
Family and friends have praised Sylvester for her strength, but she says she has no choice but to move forward.
“What else are you going to do?” Sylvester asked. “Are you just going to lay down and cry every day? That’s not going to get you anywhere.”
Sylvester started chemotherapy treatments on June 26. Once the procedures are complete, she hopes to take her children on a long family trip after so much hardship.
“I just want to travel with them,” Sylvester told InsideEdition.com. “I just dream of taking them to places to see things they’ve never seen.”