BURKE COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - "She has brought joy where there was none. Love when it seemed impossible," Helen Franklin said of her friend.
"God had blessed me with a wonderful friend and now it's time for her blessing!!!!!" writes Jennifer Lusk.
"She has fought her battle with an everlasting faith and hope for all those around," Debora Ross said in her nomination of a dear friend. "Such strength and love where most would crumble and cry."
We get a lot of nominations that depict strong women with heartfelt stories of survival, but few people have FOUR people who write such beautiful testimonies of their friend. Teresa Wheeling is the woman they are talking about.
Wheeling is a mother of two, and a grandmother of four. She's spend a large part of her life working for Belk, spent some time working for Pace@Home in Hickory, and even ran a cleaning service for some time. Recently she's found her true passion, writing. She says many of her blog posts on Facebook come from conversations she's had with friends going through cancer or some other hard times. Her encouragement for them flows into her posts, some of which have gone viral. Since being diagnosed with breast cancer she's been able to spend more time doing what she loves.
Teresa's journey with breast cancer started when she rolled over in bed and felt a knot. For about a month she chalked it up to drinking too much caffeine and ignored it.
One day in November of 2014 she decided to get a mammogram to confirm her feeling that it was nothing. Instead, a doctor told her he was 95 percent sure it was cancer. He scheduled an appointment for Teresa for an hour later and that's when she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer.
Teresa can't say enough wonderful things about the staff at the Hope Center in Nashville where she had most of her treatment done, a lumpectomy and chemotherapy.
"I had fabulous doctors," Teresa said. "I fell in love with so many people."
She also said she felt like she "had to be something for those people." Many, she says, had a much worse prognosis than she did. She felt like she needed to be a light for them, a source of encouragement.
Her friends at Pace@Home continue to knit and crochet hats for the patients at the Hope Center.
Then when she came back to North Carolina for radiation in Valdese, she says she found even more compassionate people in the medical field.
With all of praise she showers on her care givers in the hospital, there is one man she calls her "rock".
Her husband made her go out and take pictures, even on the days she admits to being in a dark hole. Teresa says he never failed to provide her with strength and encouragement.
"He helped me shave my head," she recalls. "And he told me I was beautiful the entire time he was doing it."
"Losing the hair was the hard part," Teresa said. "That's where the biggest meltdown happened."
Before being diagnosed with cancer, Teresa was growing out her hair at the request of her granddaughter. When it was time to cut it, he daughter, a hair dresser, looked at her mother's hair, and couldn't bring herself to shaving it. That's where her husband stepped in.
Even while telling herself that hair does not define you as a woman, she was devastated. So, she poured her feelings into a blog post. That post went viral. Over 2,800 people commented on the post and it spread like wildfire.
To date, Teresa has composed over 1,000 inspirational writings. And she's certainly not done yet.
"My goal is to be there for people," Teresa says about the future.
She says she's found comfort at home, but is excited to "get back out there." She's looking into volunteering opportunities and is trying to figure out her next step.
Her friends would say she's already helping people, just by being herself.
"She was a shoulder to lean on, a friend, someone who would do anything above and beyond for every single person in the facility," Helen said. "Her love of God and continued Faith throughout her chemo and radiation has left her one of the strongest people I know."
Helen knows Teresa through her work at Pace@Home.
Teresa is able to call herself a survivor today because she felt a lump herself. She pleads check yourself, pay attention to your body, and don't wait to talk to a doctor if you feel something.
And as for that hair, it's growing back! She says it's even coming in thicker and curly. "I always wanted curly hair," she says. "It was stick straight before."
"This special lady is a TRUE SURVIVOR," one nomination reads. After talking to Teresa Wheeling for 18 minutes, I couldn't agree more!