WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. - A West St. Paul family is preparing for its second big challenge in a month.
When John Sylvester's battle with ALS ended earlier this month, his wife Tessie and their boys, Gus and Freddy, were at his side.
"He said, 'I just want you here, because today is the day," Tessie Sylvester said. "I was holding his hand and he took his last breath."
The day John's life ended, life's toughest chapter began for Tessie.
"I called the funeral home and my other line was beeping and it was the doctor's office for me," she said. "And that is when they told me. It was a cancer and we needed to get going quick."
Tessie Sylvester, 36, said they knew it was a cancer before John died, and she told him -- but he didn't know the final diagnosis.
"He'd just keep telling me it will be OK," she said. "I made him promise he will watch out for us if he went."
Tessie Sylvester said she is trying to find the best way to share the news with her boys. Doctors can't operate because the cancer has spread to her liver and lymph nodes.
She starts chemo on Tuesday.
Now the Sylvester family's back yard is filled with reminders of fun they had before John died.
"John used to always sit to sit on the deck while we were out here and watch us," Sylvester said.
"What would daddy always cheer to you?" she asked her son, Gus.
"That's my son, that's my son," Gus recalled. "And now he is in heaven."
In Sylvester's front yard, though, a wheelchair ramp is still visible.
"This for them is just an escape from everything," she said as her children played.
"I just want to hold my boys and lay down and cry but we keep going," she said.
In this game, Tessie Sylvester isn't keeping score. She is focusing on what's possible.
"I want them to know that the doctors are going to help mommy," she said. "I think they will hold onto that."
A GoFundMe account has been set up for 36-year-old and her two children.
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