Nicole Curtis vividly remembers the day her contract carpenter, Bobby Prothero, told her that his 7-year-old daughter, Tessa, had cancer.
She wrote a long post on Facebook that documented the conversation that changed her life forever:
The post read, in part:
A few years back a guy named Bobby was heading up one of my projects (teal chair). He had to take some time off to go to California and I made a joke-what are you doing going to Disneyland? And he said yes, then he proceeded to tell me about his 7 yr old daughter battling Neuroblastoma Stage 4.
After learning the news, she ran to her truck and “cried and cried.” She wrote:
That moment still hits me like a ton of bricks. How many days had I ran into that house b***hing about one silly thing or another thinking I had it so bad. I felt guilty, ashamed wondering how had my life got so busy that I didn't know this about one of our guys?
In an interview with Independent Journal Review, Curtis said her team has experienced major changes since then.
She's been actively trying to spend more time with her family, and theirs. Bobby also accepted a full-time position on her work team; he had previously been an independent contractor. Curtis said:
“In the past year, our lives have changed dramatically. I had a new baby, and my grandmother grew ill and passed away. We added Bobby to our crew, and his daughter is battling Stage IV Neuroblastoma. Just like that, it wasn't business as usual.”
Curtis also helped Bobby to finish renovating his house.
Typically, Curtis purchases houses, renovates them, and sells them to make a profit. This time, she made an exception to help her friend finish his own unfinished renovations.
Bobby had been renovating the master bedroom and bathroom of his home before he learned about Tessa's illness. The family dropped everything to focus on her health.
The “Rehab Addict” renovation special was documented in Season 7, Episodes 13 and 14, in a two-part series called “A Surprise for Tessa.”
In the tear-jerking season finale, Curtis showed the family all of the renovations her team completed on the family's bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, and entryway.
At the end of the episode, Curtis said her work to help the family had just begun:
“The construction is done, but the truth is Tessa's battle is still far from over. Now our focus is supporting our wonderful friends and all the children fighting cancer right now.”
She kept her promise.
Since then, she's been working with the Prothero family to raise money in support of Tessa and other kids with childhood cancer.
Curtis wrote on Facebook:
Please start talking about pediatric cancer. I had no idea about it until I met this family, but it is the least funded cancer research there is (ONLY 4 percent OF FUNDING GOES TO PEDIATRIC CANCER RESEARCH).
For the past year, the family has been trying to raise money and make new memories with Tessa.
They've posted many pictures on their Facebook page documenting her adventures at home and on family vacations.
But on June 6, the family made a different kind of update.
They posted on Facebook that Tessa had been struggling through the week. Finally, their doctor recommended that they stop her treatment.
Bobby and his wife Karin wrote:
Please don't ask if we've tried this or that because chances are we have and if we haven't it is for a reason. We feel we have done everything we could possibly do. Now it's up to the big guy. We will stay by Tessa's side for as long as we possibly can and see her through this part of her journey. Of course we always hang on to a sliver of hope.
Curtis wrote that she was devastated by the news and that she's been doing the best she can to be supportive of her friends.
While Nicole is trying to stay positive by focusing her attention on renovating houses, she asks that her fans continue to pray and think about the little girl who changed her life.