MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. - A St. Pete woman is now fighting cancer for the second time, but this time around, in between intense treatments, she's helping raise money for kids also fighting the devastating disease.
Cori Register, 26, is now forced to move to Jacksonville to start an intense new treatment for Ewing Sarcoma, which is an extremely rare cancer for someone her age. When she was diagnosed at 24 years old, her life was put on hold. Now, she's fighting for life itself.
"My statistics are like less than 18% survival rate so it can get really emotional," Register said.
At such a young age, Register began fighting a battle she never could have fathomed.
"I thought, 'You know, I'm a healthy 24 year old. I went sky diving the week before,'" Register recalled. "I was admitted for the week. They said, 'This is very urgent. We need to start chemo now.'"
Doctors found a tumor on her neck. She underwent months of treatment and chemotherapy. Ten months after she was first diagnosed, she rang the cancer-free bell at her treatment center. That was roughly one year ago, but in February the cancer returned.
"It was like 10 times worse than the initial diagnosis," Register said.
She was forced to endure more intense treatments along with an experimental clinical trial that left her with nerve damage, causing drooping in her right eye. She was determined to try anything that could work, but she says her best medicine is nothing you can get from any doctor.
"What I find helps me the most in my volunteer work," Register said.
She is an avid volunteer for Fighting Against Monsters or FAM, which is an organization helping kids fighting Register's same battle.
"It shows them like, 'Hey, I'm in this with you and I'm fighting myself, but I'm fighting for you.' And I think that is -- I don't even have a word for that. It's very special," Register said.
Now, she's fighting her second cancer battle with a clear purpose: to inspire others just like her.
"Life is short. Everyday is a gift and it's unexpected and you can't take anything for granted," Register said.
Currently, she is looking for housing in Jacksonville, where she'll begin eight weeks of treatment later this month.
Early next year, she says she'll then re-visit with doctors to see whether the treatment helped kill any of the cancer.