SOUTH LYON, Mich. - She was recently given a month to live. But that hasn't stopped one South Lyon woman from dedicating her remaining time to the organizations she loves.
"Once they were leaving it's tough, you knew it was a final goodbye," said Mary Jo Hartman.
A rare moment of tears for Hartman, 56, of South Lyon on Tuesday. She is suffering from terminal cancer. Hartman recalled days before seeing family members for what may have been the last time.
Serving food to others - even though, she cannot eat herself. Hartman is hooked up to an IV for 12 hours a day just to stay nourished.
Hartman has been volunteering and working for the last 17 years in youth ministry programs for two churches, a family crisis center and a youth homeless shelter. She is still working and volunteering now, just receiving her master’s degree in social work from Wayne State University.
"You can find positive things, we can turn negatives into positives," Hartman said. "You can take what is trying to drag our lives down into something better. If not for myself, maybe somebody else."
Just a month earlier she saw her doctor who told her she has "maybe a month" on Nov. 19.
Vowing to stay strong and spend Christmas with her family, Hartman, who was suddenly diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in May of 2012, has undergone several surgeries, and years of chemotherapy.
But her daughter says Hartman's smile hasn't faded.
"My mom is always happy," said Sarah Lafevre. "She is just a bubble of happiness that surrounds the little bald head."
"My energy comes from other people," Hartman said. "I get it by helping others. The best thing I can do for others - especially right now - is help somebody else in need."
While Hartman's family remains inspired by the legacy she will eventually leave behind, ad her unwavering strength - they hope others out there are too.
"It's not as bad as you think," said Lefevre said. "It might suck but it will be okay."
As Hartman says it is simply not about how you die, but how you've lived.
"Find somebody else to help," Hartman said. "It will help you more than you ever could have imagined."
There is a GoFundMe page for Hartman, if you would like to donate GO HERE.