The news was unfathomable. It couldn't be happening. At only 29, Samie Watson's life changed within a brief moment of time.
“No way! I am too young,” said Watson after the doctor gave her the news of her cancer diagnosis. "I started thinking about all the things I would miss out on especially with my kids and my husband."
Doctors confirmed the news. Watson, who serves as the Jay High School Softball coach, had stage three cervical cancer.
“I was scared. It’s cancer,” said Watson.
It was January 2014. What followed included two surgeries, a radical hysterectomy, seven chemotherapy treatments and 30 rounds of radiation.
Watson faced a tough battle ahead and was about to face it without her husband by her side.
“Bret was with me the day I was diagnosed. He had just gotten back from Afghanistan," Watson said. "He had to go back to his duty station and I fought cancer without him. It was hard to accept but I knew it wasn’t his fault."
In the struggle, Watson found something new.
“You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is your only option,” said Watson.
Strength also came from other sources as well.
“I’m so thankful for my family, friends and community because without their support I wouldn’t have made it,” said Watson. “There is so much power in prayer.
"People have ask me how I did everything. I was a mom to two young children, a military wife with my husband on active duty, a coach and a teacher. I didn’t have a choice. I fought for my children and husband.
"God helped me. He gave me strength by using people in the community when I needed them the most.”
Later in 2015, she finally heard the word she longed to hear - remission.
“Oh such an amazing word," Watson said. "It meant no more treatments. I could enjoy life again."
Then the unthinkable happened. In late 2016, Watson learned her cancer had returned.
“I was absolutely devastated," Watson said. "I cried for days. I never thought I would have to go through all that again."
But she had been here before.
“I knew what to expect and how awful it was but I knew my God wouldn’t let me down,” Watson said.
This time the cancer was found in her lymph nodes. Her cervical cancer had relocated to other parts of her body.
It would result in one surgery, six chemotherapy treatments and 33 radiation treatments.
“I thought here I am again," Watson said. "I just knew I had to fight again. I had to do it for my family and friends. I would do anything for one more day with them."
Earlier this year, Watson once again heard her favorite words.
“I had beaten it again and I just wanted to live life. Enjoy my family,” Watson said.
During her second battle with cancer, Watson's husband, now a member of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, was by her side.
“That meant so much for him to be here the second time,” Watson said.
Watson found support from other survivors, people who knew what she was going through.
In return she now wants to pass similar support to others who are fighting the battle.
“Two very special friends, Sondra Moore and Dustin Holland did that for me," Watson said. "Sondra was fighting her own fight but would take time out to send me messages and even a present. All the while telling me how strong I was and that I could do it.
"Dustin was telling me what to expect with the treatments and to call him anytime I needed him. I have just wanted to return the favor like pay it forward for those that are also fighting cancer."
Watson said even though her cancer is gone, it has changed her life forever.
“I now live every day to the fullest. Tomorrow is never promised,” Watson said. “Cancer changes the way you look at everything.
"I feel like it has made me an even better mother, teacher and coach. I feel like I have more compassion and more desire to make better individuals out of the players and students put before me. I can help them create even better futures.
"Helpfully somewhere in between they find the people they are suppose to become. I will continue to live everyday thankful of every extra minute God has given me.”
Watson knows her cancer could return. But she doesn't let it cloud her thoughts. She holds fast to the verse in Isaiah 41:10, which encourages believers to find strength in God.
“I live life thinking it will never come back," Watson said. "Why live in fear?"
Watson hopes her players and students learn, through her example, how to handle battles in life.
“I’ve been taught to lead by example and practice what you preach," Watson said. "The girls play through aches and pain some times even sickness, why would I be any different.
"I expect it from them, so I showed I could do it too. After all I love them. I would never let them down. At least not if I could help it."
This summer, Watson decided to take time off from softball.
“I hadn’t had a summer off in five years," Watson said. "It was a very hard decision for me, but I wanted to make some amazing memories for my kids after having to help me fight again. Cancer helped me realign my priorities. People just couldn’t fathom me wanting to enjoy my summer too.
"We didn’t do any camps. We didn’t join any leagues. It was so relaxed and I enjoyed every minute of it. Once July 17 hit, I was all about softball and I haven’t stopped since."