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Lasting memories: Local mother makes most of her time

A family member recently took this photo to capture this moment in time.  Submitted photo

A family member recently took this photo to capture this moment in time.
Submitted photo


Parenthood is perhaps one of the greatest gifts people are given during their lifetime.
The greatest joys in a parent’s life is watching them grow up and witnessing all the first events including steps, school, jobs, weddings and finally children of their own.
Twenty-five-year old Picayune resident Lona Creel is the mother of three younger than the age of five and is waging a battle against time to create as many lasting memories with them as she can.
On Oct. 4, Lona was diagnosed with stage four gastric adenocarcinoma, an aggressive form of stomach cancer.
Lona was born and raised in Picayune. She is married to Picayune Memorial High School graduate Victor Creel.
“We were childhood friends,” Lona said. “As soon as we saw each other again in 2007, it was love at first sight and we’ve been together ever since.”
Lona tried for five years to conceive her first child. Doctors originally told the couple Lona might not be able to have children of her own.
Their first son Trenten was born three years ago and soon after two more boys arrived. Devon is now two and Payten will be 1-year-old this month.
At the beginning of 2014, Lona began experiencing chest and stomach pain.
“The doctors at the first hospital diagnosed me with GERD after running scans and blood work,” Lona said. “Earlier this month, I went to a second hospital where a CAT scan was performed and that’s when the doctors found the mass in my stomach.”
Doctors told Lona that she had tumors and lesions on her liver and inflamed lymph nodes.
“The doctors told me that this was a fast-moving and active cancer,” Lona said.
Given the advancement of the cancer, Lona was told by doctors that undergoing chemotherapy might give her an extra eight to 11 months and without treatment, doctors said she could survive up to three months.
“My first thought when I heard my diagnosis was that I wouldn’t see my kids grow up and see them go to school,” Lona said. “I want them to have a good life and finish school, that’s my main thing.”
Victor said he is having trouble sleeping at night and constantly thinks about their situation.
“It scares me, I can’t see myself being with anybody else. It feels like I’m losing my best friend and that hurts,” Victor said. “I’m trying to prepare myself and I can’t accept it. I can’t understand how a doctor can give someone a time frame on his or her life. I’m going to listen when the Lord calls her. ”
It is Lona’s wish to spend whatever time she has left creating lasting memories with her sons.
“We don’t have the funds to do a lot and take them places,” Lona said. “I want to take them to places like Disney World and the zoo. They’ve never been anywhere like that.”
After her diagnosis, Lona’s family quickly stepped in and organized fundraisers to make her dreams come true.
Erica Neff, Lona’s aunt, started a fundraising account on the GoFundMe website.
“The day she told me her prognosis, I started this account,” Neff said. “I just put myself in her place. I couldn’t imagine leaving three small children. I would want to make as many memories as I could. Lona’s children mean the world to her.”
Since the account’s inception, the family has raised more than $800 of their $5,000 goal.
If people wish to donate to Making Memories, visit the website at http://www.gofundme.com/fuf894.
Neff’s friend Shalah Bannister creates hand stamped jewelry and is donating 20 percent of her sales to Lona’s fund. Find Bannister on Facebook at Meaningful Memories.
Paul Tambrella is the owner of Paul’s Tattoo in Kiln and is holding a raffle for a $200 tattoo, Neff said. Raffle tickets are $5. Paul’s Tattoo is located at 16350 Hwy. 603. Contact them by phone at 601-329-6489 and through Facebook at Paul’s Tattoo Parlor.
November is also Stomach Cancer Awareness month. According the website, this cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related death worldwide. Each year about one million people are diagnosed and around 700,000 will lose their lives. Learn more about Stomach Cancer Awareness at www.nostomachforcancer.org.