MINNEAPOLIS - A Twin Cities community is coming together to support one of their own as she battles stage 4 breast cancer.
It's an act of kindness that started with a mail carrier who had an idea and turned to the community to make it happen.
With each delivery, there’s a chance Michelle Slack bears bad news.
But after delivering mail to the Stegena home for 13 years, the roles were reversed. On her route, Slack learned Laura Stegena, 47, was battling breast cancer.
“One day I came back and we were talking and she used the word hopeless. She was feeling helpless that day. It is a very common feeling of people who are going through this,” Slack said.
And soon after that conversation, Slack started what she calls the "Hearts for Hope" campaign.
She rallied the neighbors and even strangers in the community.
They purchased 100 red heart-shaped balloons and anchored them in the yard of Stegena’s front yard in a Linden Hills neighborhood.
Messages of hope, love and encouragement are attached to each balloon.
“I came home from chemo yesterday and I was overwhelmed. My neighbors were waiting outside for me and all these balloons were flying in the yard. I am just overcome with the generosity of kindness of my friends and neighbors and strangers who donated money out of kindness,” Stegena said.
The mother of two said mammogram failed to detect her cancer.
She received a letter in the mail clearing her of breast cancer.
But six weeks later, a chiropractor was trying to determine the cause of her back pain and ordered an MRI. That test revealed the cancerous cells.
But Stegena isn’t alone. Her mail carrier, Slack, is also battling stage four cancer.
“When I went through it they were there for me. I needed to do something for Laura to help make her day. I was stage two but now it has metastasized to rectal cancer,” she said. “My case was like hers. At first they didn’t catch the lumps in my breast.”
Both women say love has lifted them during dark moments.
“When you are given something in your life that doesn't make sense and is hard to get through, there is a reason,” Slack said. “You can turn around and help someone else get through a difficult situation. Make your journey a litter easier.”