WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Halloween may be over, but it's not too late to get a pumpkin to decorate your home for Thanksgiving. One woman who came to Wilmington from Ashe County could use the support. She's selling pumpkins to help pay for her battle with stage four cancer.
"He said he's not going to sugar-coat it. He said that even though I feel amazing, I'm very sick," Andrea Shepherd said about her cancer diagnosis. Shepherd has been selling Christmas trees in a lot off Market Street near Ogden for seven years.
"Last year on the Christmas tree lot it was pretty rough with my legs and the cramping and the different health issues, and I got really sick June 3 and went to the doctor, and when they told me I had cancer I was floored," she said.
A doctor diagnosed Shepherd with Leiomyosarcoma. It's a rare connective tissue cancer.
The 40-year-old says she works out everyday and doesn't drink or smoke. She has gone through extensive surgery and 28 rounds of radiation. Friday, Shepherd says doctors found two new tumors and three nodules on the outside of her lungs, but she's not letting it keep her from living out a dream.
Shepherd always wanted to sell pumpkins and decided this was the year to do it. She says she left the mountains to spend time with her Wilmington boyfriend and get some sunshine on her face. She did not expect the outpouring of community support.
"I thought I was blessed in my little town of Sparta," Shepherd said. "This community is amazing, and I really do appreciate it. Ya'll have got a lot of survivors down here and a lot of positive people, and that's what we need to hear is cancer is cancer-warriors."
Shepherd says she wanted to tell her story in hopes of helping someone else.
"If you don't like what the doctor is saying, go somewhere else because you know your body. Be in check with your body," she said. "I knew something was wrong. I've known something was wrong for two years, and now, unfortunately, I was right."
Shepherd says pumpkin and Christmas tree sales will help pay for her nearly half-million dollars in medical bills and her kids' college tuition. Depending on how soon Shepherd's doctor can start her chemotherapy, she may have a pumpkin-chunking contest at the patch using sling-shots this weekend, and the winner gets a free Christmas tree. You can bring your own pumpkin or use theirs, and any donations are greatly appreciated.
Shepherd and her boyfriend will sell Christmas trees on the same lot in the 6000 block of Market Street starting November 22 and lasting through Christmas Eve.