EUREKA, SD -
Adding extra services with a price tag totaling thousands of dollars isn't an option for many small schools. A community donation in Eureka made that happen and it paid off in ways no one expected.
A 125th anniversary celebration brought some extra money into the small town of Eureka. It helped bring a happy ending so far to the following story, too.
"When I was sent down to Sioux Falls, I didn't think it was going to be cancerous. And after I got out of surgery and the doctor came up and told me, I was in shock. I couldn't believe it. It was scary because I didn't know what I was in for," Tasha Imberi said.
But that's better than the situation Tasha Imberi of Eureka had been in just weeks earlier. She had cancer but didn’t know it.
Toward the end of last year, she noticed her stomach getting bigger despite losing weight and, to a degree, her appetite.
In January, the school offered free heart screenings through Screening America. A donation from the Eureka Quasquicentennial Committee made the screenings possible. Rather than heart issues, personnel conducting the screenings noticed something else was wrong.
"The nurse had asked me if I was pregnant and everything because my stomach was bigger. And I was like, 'no.' Well then a week after that they had me come down and do like a special ultrasound," Imberi said.
Multiple doctors and a surgery later, Imberi learned a growing cancerous tumor on her ovary was causing the growth in her stomach. It was hard for her, along with family and friends.
"I was in shock and I couldn't believe it and I was just hoping it didn't spread anywhere," friend Nicole Rau said.
The news caught Imberi’s mother Susan off guard too.
"It's very scary. You don't know what to expect day to day," Susan Imberi said.
"The first thing that I was freaking out about was losing my hair," Tasha Imberi said.
Imberi was a junior in high school at the time. Support from friends and family along with prayers got her through the challenges that came with her cancer battle.
She says she's being monitored closely but is now cancer-free.
Screening America sent a certificate to the Quasquicentennial Committee, thanking it for the $5,000 donation that paid for the screenings. That thank you has been repeated several times.
"I'm so glad we had them because if we wouldn't have she would have never been tested and it could have gotten so much worse," Rau said.
Imberi echoes that and thanks the person who noticed her tumor too, even if she didn't come with the intent to screen for cancerous tumors.
"Very thankful because I could maybe not be here today if it wouldn't have been for that," Imberi said.
Imberi can push credit in many directions and does. Still, a $5,000 donation from the community will always carry an immeasurable value to her.
"I have a lot more energy now. I'm not as tired as I used to be. I'm able to go hang out with friends and stuff and do things like I used to be able to," Imberi said.
"She seems a lot happier and she has more energy, and I'm just glad I have my friend back," Rau said.
Imberi had her last chemotherapy treatment in June and she has another reason to celebrate. The student body elected her homecoming queen this fall.
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