ZACHARY, LA (WAFB) - A Zachary teen is fighting cancer for the second time in less than a year. After clearing one hurdle, her family is now facing more heartbreak.
As the tears flow, Christina Dunaway says she will never forget this past January, Friday the 13th. It's the day her 16-year-old daughter, Alexis Withers, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
"I never expected it to be cancer," Dunaway said. "It's just something that you never think is going to happen to you and your family or to your child."
She says the teen had been gaining weight and complaining about stomach pain for weeks. When they finally got the courage to visit the doctor, the news was almost unbearable. "I hit the floor and she had to actually step down off of the hospital bed and hold me up because it was devastating," said Dunaway.
The next few days were a blur of tests and procedures. In the end, doctors removed a seven pound tumor from her stomach, giving the family a wave of relief because they thought the battle was won. The small victory was short lived, however, because earlier this month at a checkup, the two were told not only was the cancer back, but it had spread. This time, the disease is attacking her liver.
"Going through this you start to realize you're kind of forced to grow a little bit," Withers said. "We think that we're never going to die and to get cancer it's just like, it's mind blowing."
"She is my rock. I'm supposed to be hers, but my strength doesn't compare to hers," Dunaway added.
The past few months have been a roller coaster of emotions, but out of the hopelessness of such a scary diagnosis, a new support system has blossomed. Dunaway says they initially went live on Facebook back in January to keep family back in Mobile, Alabama updated on her condition. The page, called "Faith of a Warrior" has since blown up with roughly 6,000 people from all over sending her messages, videos, and little nuggets of encouragement as the teen continues her fight.
"You want somebody to be there for you and you want somebody you can lean on," said Withers.
More than anything, she says the love, support, and pure kindness from others has reinforced her faith and let her know that she is not alone. "Through all this and through all these people, God is showing me that he is everywhere and that I am never alone," Withers said. "I couldn't be more grateful."
If you would like to support Withers on Facebook as she continues to fight ovarian cancer, click here.