Courage beyond measure

REED CITY — At just 24 years old, Emily Pontz of Hersey is fighting one of the toughest battles she will encounter in life.

Pontz was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 18 after undergoing an ultrasound and biopsy on a lump she found earlier that month. Although her doctors told her not to worry about the results, they discovered the disease, along with a hereditary cancer gene called a BRCA gene.

“I heard the word cancer and I heard nothing after that,” said Pontz about the moment her doctor told her diagnosis.

After relaying the news to her family, Pontz visited the Michigan State University Department of Surgery. Physicians recommended she have a lumpectomy, but she chose to have a mastectomy in hopes of eradicating the cancer.

However, because of the BRCA2 gene and the risk it poses for breast and ovarian cancer, she will need a second mastectomy and later, a hysterectomy. Beginning later this month, she will begin a 16-week chemotherapy treatment in Reed City.

Through the initial processes and those still to come, Pontz said she has been blessed to have family, friends and fellow employees surrounding her with positivity.

“I have this amazing support system. The outpouring of love has been fabulous,” she added

One of those friends and supporters, Jessica Windquist, lovingly refers to Pontz as “Emmy.” The pair have been close since the sixth grade and have shared many memories.

“She’s just one of those people that has always been there. She’s that friend everyone wants to have. She has a heart of gold,” said Windquist.

The friends’ bond has become stronger through the early stages of Pontz’s fight against the disease. Just last month, the Pink 4 Pontz team members participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Lansing.

“She and I have been shoulders for each other,” Pontz added. “She has just been amazing.”

Now, Windquist has helped plan a spaghetti dinner and silent auction in support of Pontz. The event will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. on May 18 at the Reed City High School cafeteria.

A donation of $5 per plate is suggested, and additional funds would be helpful, Windquist said. All money raised will help Pontz with medical expenses including prescriptions, long-term care, transportation costs, surgeries and more.w

“I want to help her as much as I can,” Windquist added. “I want to show Emily how many people want to come out and support her.”

Local businesses and home-business consultants have taken the time to donate items or piece together large gifts for benefit attendees’ bids.

Pontz said during the event she wants to spread awareness of cancer in young women, greet supporters with a smile and help them feel uplifted by an event that can help build a strong community.

“I have two goals. I want to survive. My eye is on the prize and that’s living,” she added. “Also, I want to be able to help other women through this - especially the young ones. I want to empower them.