Someone You Should Know: Strength through tragedy
A Sioux Falls mom has been through a lot in a short amount of time just the past decade. Now, she's facing her toughest battle yet, the fight for her life.
“My house is very active."
Mindy Poncelet has a busy household. Four daughters and two "bonus" kids, step-kids, all six ranging in age from 18 to 2.
Like many parents, Mindy and her husband Michael take things day by day but they have another reason for that besides parenting.
"It's glioblastoma multiforme, it's stage four terminal brain cancer."
After turning 40 years old last year, Mindy was diagnosed in May. It’s rare, aggressive and it continues to leave its mark.
"This is where the tumor was, I got it cut right here. They've removed two tumors, I've had two brain surgeries now, two different tumors, this last one they think the bone maybe didn't go together good and this is cerebral fluid that's building up,” says Mindy. "This cancer, it's fingers that grow all over in the brain, and they just grow, grow, grow, through the brain and there are cancer cells all over that they can't see. They can't see how bad it is."
Mindy doesn't know how much time she has left.
"He doesn't like to talk about time. My doctor just doesn't. At first, he did, but now it's more of, it's God who knows when I'm going to go. Only God knows exactly when I'm going."
Despite this diagnosis and the likely outcome ahead, Mindy remains positive. Her friends and loved ones all agree.
"She's just high-spirited and happy and just outgoing and it's nice waking up to that every day,” says Michael.
"She's got an awesome spirit,” says her friend Dea.
"I don't know. I don't know what it is. I think it's from what all I've been through as an adult,” says Mindy.
Mindy’s first husband, Branden, died young.
"We were both 32, and he had an aortic dissection and the aorta tore up the carotid artery and caused him to have a massive stroke, and he was brain dead and on life support and I ended up having to take him off life support. So, my two oldest 18 and 15-year-old lost their dad."
"They've been through a lot, the two oldest, so they're tough. They tell me they're tough because of me, say 'we're tough, cause you, mom, we see you be tough'. So, It's kind of neat to hear."
What's been helpful for Mindy is her support system. Including new friends like Dea Krausman whose husband recently died after a 17-month-long battle with the same type of cancer. She's helping the Poncelets understand the disease.
"If she has a headache that day, he needs to know to take charge, so I just want to be support for them,” says Dea.
A disease that's hard to understand.
"When you get stuck with it, you're stuck with it, it's not going away. And it kind of takes you down ugly it seems like. So, it'd be nice if there was more research is done, more awareness about it,” says Mindy.
The goal is to keep fighting. Mindy is doing chemotherapy and other treatments.
She wants to see her oldest daughter graduate from Lincoln High School in May. Mindy’s whole life is her family and she's taken steps to make sure they'll always know that.
"And I've also written letters to all my kids after I pass away, so they all have something special from me to hold onto the rest of their life,” says Mindy. "I've had such great support and so much love from so many people and I just thank everybody who's been there for me and it makes me emotional, I've had a lot of love."