GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The thoughts and prayers of thousands of people are with one Gulfport woman as she bravely fights a battle against cancer.
It was the day before Thanksgiving when a usually bright and upbeat Mandy Woods knew something was wrong. She started showing signs of a stroke. About a week later, she was in a hospital bed recovering from a surgery after learning she had a brain tumor.
Instead of losing hope, her family started to pray. Mandy's stepdaughters, Kayla and Briana, called on God to intervene.
"I knew that he would show up, and he most certainly did. I think everything that has happened to her has been a complete miracle," said Briana.
They say another part of that miracle came in the form of community. Mandy's connection to the community through her work as a crime prevention specialist at the Gulfport Police Department began to show. People came forward offering any help they could give.
Kristin Allen was one of those people. She runs a nonprofit that helps first responder families in need.
"It's Christmas. We wanted to bring a little Christmas spirit to Brian and Mandy," said Allen.
To do that, she delivered a Christmas tree to Mandy's hospital room and started hanging prayer ornaments on it. Then, she made a post on social media that reached hundreds of thousands of people. Kayla said this response shows Mandy's impact on the community.
"I think it's just circling back around for Mandy. Everything that she does for others. She's such a natural nurturer and comforter, and everything's coming back to her," said Kayla.
It's a response that Mandy said was par for the course for what she called some of the most caring people on earth.
"It makes me proud to be from the Mississippi Gulf Coast," said Allen.
Kayla and Briana told WLOX News Now there's a chance Mandy will be home in time for Christmas.
If you want to help Mandy and her family as she recovers, there is an account set up at any Keesler Federal Credit Union Branch. The account is in the name of Frances Hall with a sub account for the Mandy Woods medical expense account. Donations can also be made by calling 228-385-5500.
If you are interested in sending a prayer ornament to Mandy, you can send them to the Gulfport Police Department at 2220 15th St. Gulfport, MS 39501 care of Mandy Woods Prayer Tree.