Community comes together for mother battling cancer - WNEM TV 5

Community comes together for mother battling cancer for the 4th time

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OTTAWA, KS (KCTV) -

It seems Christmas has become synonymous with cancer for one Ottawa woman. She's fighting the disease for the fourth time over 13 years.

Her tight community, though, is coming together so she won't sweat the small things and can focus on what truly matters this season.

"In 2006, we lost everything because I was a small business owner and didn't have insurance and we had to file bankruptcy. I had almost $400,000 in medical bills," Jenna McDaniels said.

McDaniels was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. It wasn't the first time cancer struck during the holidays - in 1999 she fought cervical cancer, 2004 uterine cancer.

"My kids have spent many Christmases without anything," the mother said.

And this Christmas, cancer again. The teacher assistant at Ottawa High School sits in a wheelchair now as she recovers from surgery. Doctors recently removed a tumor from her thigh.

Students are stepping up for the woman they lovingly call "mom." She's never let them down.

"You can go to her for anything and she'll be like ‘yeah, I can help you,'" Trina Patton said.

They've held raffles and fundraisers like bake sales to help with staggering medical bills and cover the cost of rent and meals.

"There's presents under our tree for the first time in several years. We are feeling very blessed," McDaniels said.

It's not just the students in the high school who are reaching out. Donation jars are set up at local businesses so the entire Ottawa community can support the family.

"I had an anonymous donor pay $500 towards our rent so our December rent is paid, so that's a relief," McDaniels said.

"Bad things happen to good people and Jenna is one of those good people, and I think everyone realizes that and that's why we had such a response," said Natasha Jenkins.

McDaniels says she doesn't know where she and her family would be without all the support.

"To know that, you know, they care and are here to support me, my husband and my children, it's a godsend. I mean just unreal," she said.

If you want to help McDaniels and her family get through the holidays, the community has even set up a website where you can make donations through PayPal. Go to http://goo.gl/2W9vAU to donate.

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