LANESBORO, Pa. (WBNG) -- Colleen Wilkes has lived in Susquehanna County since she was a child. She has always kept family close, as she and eight siblings grew up together on the same street she still lives on.
In October of 2014 her family endured a great loss when her step sister, Jean, passed away after a long battle with breast cancer.
"She' s the oldest, and we miss her dearly," said Wilkes who still keeps Jean's number in her phone.
Wilkes watched as the hospital bills piled in for her step-sister, and unfortunately years later saw the same for herself.
“Very later in 2016 I was watching a friends mother for the afternoon, and I had to take her to the doctors," explained Wilkes. "While I was there I took her to my doctor and he said to me, 'Hey when was the last time you had a mammogram?' I kind of hesitated because the appointment was about her."
The doctor arranged for a mammogram the next day. Wilkes went, and while no cancer was found, she said she had to have surgery done on the left side of her chest to remove some lumps. However she wasn't out of the clear.
Months later after her first surgery, Wilkes had another mammogram and this time cancer was found. Her doctor called her while she was in the car telling her she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.
“I had no clue even where I was," said Wilkes. "I had to get out of the car and walk around because I couldn't think, I couldn't collect my thoughts."
Wilkes underwent radiation treatment through Lourdes Hospital.
"The world stops," said Wilkes. "When you have a diagnosis of cancer I'm not sure how anyone else thinks of it, but cancer is sometimes two words. It's cancer death."
Wilkes then had to call her son who is in the Navy and was stationed in Japan at the time.
"It's very tough when you get a call like," explained Wilkes who said that was one of the hardest phone calls of her life.
"I just needed to know that I was going to be alright...because I'm not done here yet," emphasized Wilkes. "I'm not done being married, I'm not done being a mother, I'm not done being a sister, I'm not done being a daughter, I'm not done yet. I need to be here a little longer.”
Grateful to have her family and friends always by her side, Wilkes said she was thankful that Lourdes had a treatment plan right away. She said staff there would call her to see how she was doing.
As Wilkes moved toward a healthier lifestyle there was an issue that she couldn't control, hospital bills, just as her step sister Jean went through.
"You don't want to think about any finances, I mean they do come up in your mind, but you want to think about getting better," said Wilkes. "I said is there anyway we can get some help?"
Fortunately there was help, there was Sock Out Cancer, which assists families financially that are stricken by cancer.
"Sock Out Cancer was involved in some of the finances of my hospital bills, so I cant say how much of appreciation I am for that," explained Wilkes who said she is amazed that, “A pair of socks can raise money for people to give toward their financial bills."
Today Wilkes is cancer free and holds her loved ones, memories of her step sister and of course her socks, closer than ever!
Sock Out Cancer socks can be purchased at Friday's Sock Out Cancer Concert at the Forum Theatre in Binghamton, or by calling (607)-338-SOCK, proceeds from those options will go to help the parents of 4-year-old Cooper Busch who passed away on Sunday after a long battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
Tickets for the William Close and the Earth Harp Collective performance can still be purchased here, proceeds will be raised for cancer patients at UHS and Lourdes Hospitals, just like Colleen Wilkes once was.