SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Friends and family call her the Princess Warrior. That's because McCall Andrews is a fighter.
On her wedding anniversary, two years ago, McCall was diagnosed with stage 4 Breast Cancer. Ready for battle, she bravely headed into every chemo treatment wearing a purple power colored wig, a tiara, and a smile.
McCall remembers the reaction from nurses. "They'd never seen somebody so upbeat," she said.
But McCall knew she had a long road ahead. "I was supposed to go through six rounds of the toughest chemo drugs there are, and after five I became septic. If I hadn't of gotten there in time, I wouldn't be here today," she said.
McCall's fight was far from over. The cancer spread.
Turns out the headaches she was having were from two large tumors on her brain, and as many as 40 smaller tumors toward the back. "They couldn't do a surgery to get them out, so what they did was put a shunt in the back of my brain, down to my stomach. I had two weeks of full brain radiation. One day a week with fluids," McCall said.
McCall's still getting fluids, and likely always will.
She says her husband George is definitely her rock. He's stepped up in a big way from cooking and cleaning to caring for their young son. George only works weekends, so he can be there for every medical visit. "I definitely don't want to lose her. She's my everything," he said.
It's the love and support of McCall's husband and her son Grant that makes her fight that much harder. And she hasn't given up on the other things that bring her joy.
McCall plays the keyboard and flute. She also paints and shares her work with others. She's even illustrating a book for the bible school kids at her church.
She says her faith is what pulls her through. In her prayers, she said "Whatever I can't handle, you help me out on the rest. If I can't stand up, I know you're going to carry me through it. The other part of my prayer was, I wanted to help people. If I had to go through this, I want to help people who might also be going through this."
Despite her own struggles, McCall has organized a monthly luncheon called Cancer Buddies, so caretakers and others battling the disease can support one another.
McCall also served as this year's ambassador for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. "She wants to make sure her story gets out, so it helps other people as well, especially with the BRCA situation because it's not curable yet. And I say yet because we know it will be," George said.
BRCA is an inherited gene mutation that can increase the risk of Breast Cancer. Because it is hereditary, McCall's two sisters have had mastectomies as a preventive measure. To learn more about BRCA and other cancers click here.
If you are interested in attending a Cancer Buddies luncheon, these are held the third Thursday of every month at Mosaic Church in Ocean Springs.