When Natalee Cooks found out she was pregnant with her fifth child, she was not expecting the news that came next. At her first prenatal appointment, she was told she had stage 3 breast cancer.
The 27-year-old said her first thought was not of herself.
"I was somewhat terrified, but more concerned if they would tell me I had to terminate the pregnancy," she said.
Her hope eventually is to help spread the word about breast cancer and raise awareness that even younger people can get the disease. She is hoping to start at a benefit dinner that the Lodi Eagles is holding for her on Sunday.
Since May 21, Cooks has undergone one chemotherapy treatment every three weeks. The treatment isn't working, since the pregnancy has prevented her from taking the full dosage. Her due date is Aug. 10, but she has been told she will need to deliver her baby a month and a half early. She will then have surgery and then will start radiation.
The mother of four said she relies on her jokes and her daughters to give her strength.
"They honestly motivate me and give me strength to get through what I need to get through," she said.
Cook's sister, Ashlee Gross, is hoping the funds raised through the benefit dinner will help offset medical costs. She is also hoping it will help her sister get through the difficult time she has been faced with.
"I'm hoping to show how much support is out there in the community to help her get through this journey she is going to be going through," she said.
The complete spaghetti dinner will be available for dine-in or take-out and there will also be a raffle.
The dinner will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Lodi Eagles Lodge, 217 E. Lockeford St. The cost is $8 for adults or $4 for children age 10 and under. For more information, call 209-339-1615.