COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Mary Even has been fighting cancer for a while now, but a recent diagnosis showed that the cancer spread from her pancreas to her lungs. Her doctor didn't give her long to live.
Still sick from chemo treatments, Even flew to New York to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the Rockettes.
"When the doctor told me I didn't have much time and that it was cancer I said, 'To heck with it,' and I went," Even said.
While she was out of town, a plan was hatched to make Mary's return a happy one by putting up seven or eight Christmas trees outside her house. Even's niece, Stephanie Stegmuller, didn't like that plan.
"I was like, 'we're not doing eight. If we're gonna do it, we're gonna do it good,' so I sent a text out to all our family and friends," Stegmuller said. "We were trying to get 18 trees, but then I had people saying, 'I'll bring one, I'll bring one.'"
Instead of eight trees, Even returned home to find 20 trees on her deck along with four snowmen and two live trees on her front porch.
Close to 50 friends and family secretly worked all day at Even's Colerain Township house putting up trees and stringing lights to add to the big surprise.
"It was so great because everyone feels so helpless, and this was such a wonderful thing to come together and actually feel like we were doing something to help make her feel better about herself and her last Christmas," Stegmuller said.
Earlier this week, Even returned from her trip to New York City to find the festive display.
"We pulled up to this, and of course I started crying like a baby," Even said. "It was fabulous."
Christmas is a time for giving, and Mary Even's family and friends gave her a present she'll never forget – her own personal winter wonderland.
"I kinda adopted a policy that I live one day at a time, and I'm not sure if this is my last Christmas, but they sure made it special for me," Even said.
Mary's doctor told her she may have only months to live, but she could live two more years. That would mean two more Christmases.