I Know You Don’t Want To Be Doing It, But You Are {I Am So Proud}

I Know You Don’t Want To Be Doing It, But You Are {I Am So Proud}

There are 2 ways that our bodies respond to a large stressor: FLIGHT or FIGHT. How would you respond if the doctor told you that your husband and your daughters carry a specific gene that would cause them to develop stomach cancer? Would you get in your car and drive far, far away? Or would you double down and use all of your faith and power to fight?

Heather Holley, the only member of her family that does not carry the stomach cancer gene, decided that she would stay and FIGHT! Fighting to keep her family together, fighting to help her family members stay strong, mentally and physically, fighting to stay on top of the nasty cancer that would wreak havoc on her family, fighting to keep her strength so that she can fight the mental anguish of having three family members go through the process of having their stomachs removed. Heather is still in the fight of her life as her last family member, her daughter Ava, prepares to have her stomach removed in a couple of weeks. Life is hard enough, but compound life with cancer and it can sometimes seem unbearable.

Heather and I have been in each other’s lives for over fourteen years. We have worked together and have shared our lives with each other as her children and mine are close in age. It is not lost on me that we have even walked together in a cancer walk to show up for our family and friends. Now, is the time that she needs me to support her and her family and I am here for them.

Holley family


Corey Holley, Heather’s husband, carries the stomach cancer gene. The Holleys witnessed Corey’s mom and aunt perish from this familial disease. Corey started his cancer journey last year resulting in the removal of his stomach and then their older daughter, Zoe, had her stomach removed; a lot for Heather to handle.

Their younger daughter, Ava (11 years old), tested positive for the gene but it was not her time. The family had to wait until there were more cancer cells present to warrant removing her stomach. The waiting was hard but when the cancer cells began to multiply, she had to wait, waiting can sometimes be the hardest part. How long will she have to wait? When will there be enough cells to operate? Are we going to wait for the cancer to stage? This spring, Ava began experiencing symptoms that Heather was all too familiar with so they were off to St. Jude Children’s Hospital for testing and sure enough, Ava would need her stomach removed this summer.


Ava Holley

Most of us know St. Jude Children’s Hospital is a place where amazing things happen. Thankfully, they have supported Heather through Zoe’s surgery and are helping her through Ava’s surgery as well. Support comes in different facets that the family will need: lodging, travel, the surgery itself and recovery. Along with GoFundMe, which will cover household bills and day-to-day expenses, Heather will be able to stay by Ava’s side starting with pre-op through recovery without having to worry about the every day minutiae. 

Why Us?

As a mother, I cannot help but wonder how Heather is making it through this time. Why them? Why now? These are questions we cannot help but ask. Heather and I work together and I am constantly in awe at how she makes it through the day with her baby’s surgery looming. She states that work provides normalcy and routine. Her faith and the support of her community have kept her sane and will no doubt help in the upcoming months.


Heather and Ava Holley

People around the world know that a mother’s strength is unlike any other, and Heather’s strength is no different. Lifting cars to save their children, childbirth in and of itself, sleepless nights while they are babies, playground bullies, anxiety of the inevitable, and genetic diseases that are of no fault of their own. She will stay strong for her baby and enter back into the fight of her life this summer. 

When you are experiencing a stressful time in life in the days ahead, say a little prayer or send good vibes to Heather as she will need all of the help that she can get. I plan on checking in often and sending her inspirational notes through Ava’s journey. A mother’s love is like no other, you never stop until your babies are safe. My wish for Heather is for her to see her strength, the strength I see. A mama that will not stop, a mama that stayed the course, and a mama that fights for her family, relentlessly and bravely.

Kathy Magri
Kathy is a Metairie native who lives in River Ridge with her husband, Mike, her children, Finn and Nina, and her 3 pups and a cat, Rex, Beau, Hans & Toula. She enjoys double dating with friends on Friday or Saturday nights and brunching with her girlfriends. A lover of all people (particularly babies and children), she is usually volunteering in various organizations and supporting her children in their extracurricular activities. You may catch her reading about World War II or listening to an assortment of music. An avid traveler, she can be found in her parents’ homeland, San Pedro, Belize, enjoying time with family, snorkeling, riding golf carts around town and eating the best food in the world.


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