Cancer Claims PTTP Spokeswoman

Posted at: 04/29/2013 6:57 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It was nearly three months ago that we introduced you to an Austin woman who impressed an entire community with her strength and bravery in light of a medical diagnosis that amounted to a death sentence.

This weekend, Barb Nelson lost her fight with cancer.

"2001 I discovered a lump in my left breast, and it kept getting bigger," Barb Nelson told us when we talked to her on January 31st.

By that time, she had come to terms with the unthinkable.

“It could be three, six or nine months."

On Sunday afternoon, Barb Nelson’s battle with cancer came to an end.

“Until the end she still hoped to beat it ... hoped for that miracle," Barb Nelson’s sister Becky Sheehan told us from her home in the Twin Cities.

"Even though doctors called it terminal, she did not, she fought that diagnosis to the end," added Gail Dennison at the Hormel Institute in Austin.

But despite knowing that her days had dwindled to a precious few, Barb Nelson's strength became the symbol of Austin's "Paint The Town Pink" cancer awareness effort.

"Ultimately doing paint the town and talking about what was going on really gave her a sense of purpose," Becky Sheehan told us.

“I'm okay with myself," Barb Nelson told us at the end of January. “If I can help on person, that's all that matters."

“In the end if she couldn't beat it, her goal was to make a positive impact on others and hope that somebody else could beat it," her sister, Becky Sheehan, added.

"More than her strength of faith was just her strength in knowing that part of god's plan was knowing her and her husband being reunited."

Three years earlier, Barb Nelson’s husband died of cancer.

"She knew there was something wonderful waiting for her on the other side," Becky Sheehan said. “I guess her legacy would be her sense of strength in dealing with adversity."

“I just want to save other people. That's the miracle I want" Barb Nelson told us in January."

She was 47 years old at the time of her death Sunday afternoon.

Services will be held at one o’clock next Tuesday afternoon, May 7th at Clausen Jordan Mortuary in Austin.