NEW PORT RICHEY — Tammy Green knew the grim statistics. Patients with her type of rare cancer seldom survive more than five years and she had managed nine.
She endured torturous surgeries and followup treatments, but still cheered others with her wide smile and sunny disposition. A hairdresser with a long list of faithful clients, she amused them by dying her own hair bright red.
She had mesenchymal chondrosarcoma, a cancer that attacks cartilage. Tumors kept showing up, and after two extended battles, Tammy decided this year she could not endure any more surgery. She hoped to enter an alternative clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, but she didn't have the money.
"I want to be there for my children,'' she said in January when interviewed for a Times story, surrounded by Tyler, 17, Kaylee, 11, Shayna, 10, and Chloe, 6, a "miracle baby'' who came along after it seemed impossible for Tammy to have any more.
Friends and family rallied to help her raise money for the treatment. Tammy's cousin, Angie Daughtery, created a Facebook page called "Tammy's Road to Hope,'' and on weekends hundreds of supporters took over gas station parking lots to wash cars. They raised thousands of dollars and finally, last month, cheered as Tammy, 38, boarded a plane to Tijuana.
She spent two weeks at the clinic and "felt great,'' said her cousin. For the first time in months she had an appetite and gained 12 pounds. This served as encouraging news and pictures for the Facebook page.
But when she returned home to New Port Richey, she lost feeling her legs. Her husband, Rich, an emergency medical technician, drove her to the hospital. An exam revealed a new tumor on her spine. She underwent surgery at Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She was scheduled for release on Wednesday (Aug. 15, 2012) when she developed respiratory problems and died at 10 p.m.
"She was a fighter,'' her husband said Friday, "an inspiration to so many. A body can only take so much.''