Within a matter of two months, Patty Azarela went from feeling sick around Valentine's Day to developing advanced stage cancer of the lymph nodes.
Azarela, 49, of Crystal Lake is undergoing chemotherapy and had to shave her head because her hair started falling out. Yet, it hasn't dampened her spirits, said Azarela's daughter, Nicole Holmes, of Harvard.
"She is not covering it up. She is just rocking the bald head," Holmes said. "She is very upbeat and has a really positive outlook. She's just been an amazing source of inspiration for a lot of people throughout this whole process."
A fundraiser will be held Saturday for Azarela at Parkside Pub in Huntley where she has tended bar for nearly 25 years. The goal of the benefit is to raise $50,000. The pub also is donating a portion of its sales receipts from the day to Azarela's treatment, Holmes said.
Doctors initially thought Azarela had an infection. Her blood work came back normal. Early in March, Azarela started getting masses in her neck that started growing.
After having a biopsy done, Azarela was diagnosed with cancer April 7. Within a week, the cancer spread throughout her lymphatic system.
"It was really fast," Holmes said, adding that doctors haven't been able to pinpoint the source of the cancer. "Right now, the doctors are taking it one chemo treatment at a time. They are hopeful that once they get everything shrunk down that radiation might be a possibility."
Azarela's second chemo treatment is scheduled Monday. Each treatment costs $10,000, and Azarela does not have health insurance, Holmes said.
"We've raised just under $9,000 through the gofundme campaign online," Holmes said.
The fundraiser will run from 2 p.m. until closing time in the beer garden and parking lot of the pub at 11721 E. Main St. It is open to the public. Festivities will cease around 10 p.m. To donate, call (847) 971-2140 or visit gofundme.com/pattyazarela.
"All proceeds from the fundraiser go to my mom," Holmes said, adding that she anticipates anywhere from 600 to 800 people could attend throughout the day.