Terry Bower has been through a lot. A dozen years, she was diagnosed with anal cancer.
Battling it meant radiation treatments. Lots of them.
“Having cancer did a number on my bones. My mobility isn’t good at all," says Bower.
A walk from the living room to the kitchen is tiring and she has to rest when she gets there. Bower is unable to work.
In the middle of that cancer battle, Bower won another fight, with her son and now-former daughter-in-law for custody of her grandsons.
When they arrived Jeremiah was a toddler. Kalub wasn't walking yet. They are now 12 and 10 years old respectively.
To many folks, maybe most folks raising small children and trying to overcome cancer at the same time is too much is ask.
Bower shrugs and says, “I wouldn’t want them in the system. There’s no way. I love the kids. I love them and I wouldn’t have it any other way."
There are no a lot of frills or extras in their apartment. The Christmas tree is up. Jeremiah handled that himself.
And regularly, they need help putting food on the table.
“Around this time of the month it gets rough. You know? I’ve noticed a lot of people this time of the month, everybody’s low, even if you’re working,” says Bower.
Fortunately for her, help is literally across the street. That where the North Tonawanda food pantry is. It's operated by Niagara Community Action Program.
“Most people think people on welfare are the ones that come and that’s not the case at all. I have many, many working families that come here,” says Linda Harrington, who manages the pantry.
She estimates 70% of her clients are from working households, but do not earn enough to keep their families fed.
The Food Bank of WNY, which supplies pantries in Niagara Erie, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties says it serves 135,000 people each month. The biggest bloc of that number is infants and children, some 55,000. Another 16,500 are senior citizens.
That's Bower's household exactly, a senior and two children.
Bower goes out of her way to praise the North Tonawanda pantry for helping her and her grandsons. She also is thankful the people and companies who donate food to the Food Bank.
“I hope they know they are appreciated.”