Indianapolis mother, once homeless, becomes Race for the Cure ambassador

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An Indianapolis mother faced homelessness and a diagnosis that rocked her world: cancer. Today, she is an ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. She urges you to join the race against breast cancer that is changing women's lives.

In Tonya Trotter's Indianapolis apartment, you hear the sounds of faith as the family sings "Amazing Grace."

This family is thankful for the life of their loved one, Tonya, who was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly two years ago.

"We're thankful to God that she conquered and came out victorious over cancer," said Tonya's father, Thomas Trotter.

"I pull from the grace of God. I believe and I know with all of my heart that He is the absolute reason that I'm sitting here today," she said.

As a mother of two teenage children, Tonya fought to live for them.

"It just kind of gave me the drive to beat this monster because I knew I was my children's sole supporter and I just couldn't leave them here like this," she said.

Her cancer journey started with a breast self-exam.

"I just felt like a little knot and I wondered…hmm. 'Cause I had never felt like that before," she said.

But then life took a dramatic turn. She and her kids moved from one state to another and her world fell apart.

"I became homeless. I lost my job. I lost my car. The man I was with was not willing to stick around and deal with cancer," she said.

With no money and no support system, the small lump in her breast grew.

"By the time I was able to get the doctor after a few months, it was a nice size now, like the size of maybe a plum," said Tonya.

Tonya came back home to Indianapolis, rescued by her large, loving family. She documented her journey in pictures, through the after-effects of chemotherapy and the scars of radiation and a mastectomy.


"The scars just remind me that I won. I didn't let cancer get the best of me," she said.

"She handled it well, through this journey. I'm proud of her," said her father.

Tonya shares pictures of her triumph over cancer and family pictures with her children after she was cancer-free.

"With support, you're gonna be just fine," she said.

She also showed WTHR some of the free breast health support she received, some funded with grants from Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central Indiana.

"Komen was a big supporter as far as making sure I got to my treatments. They were able to give me a prosthesis after surgery. They helped with getting me a wig," said Tonya.

She is giving to Komen in return, taking part in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure as a Komen ambassador.

"I heard that it is just absolutely amazing," she said. "I'm very excited to walk and try to raise money to find a cure so that no one ever has to go down this road."

Tonya urges all of us to support women in need, just like her - women who depend on the Race for the Cure to provide funding for mammograms and breast health services that can save their lives.

Join Channel 13 at the Race for the Cure Saturday morning. It's at Military Park in downtown Indianapolis at 7:00 am. Also, if you can't make it to the race this year, watch WTHR from 6:00 to 7:00 am and 8:00 to 10:00 am.

Register here.