Veteran fighting for life

Former U.S. airman struck with late stage breast cancer

Darren Appleby and his daughter Emma take a moment to speak with her mother, Tammy who is fighting breast cancer. The Piedmont Area Veterans Association hosted a fund-raiser for her medical costs. (Photo by Mindy Ragan Wood)

By Mindy Ragan Wood
Staff Writer

PIEDMONT – The Piedmont Area Veterans Association proved how generous the community can be when someone is in need.

PAVA organizers hosted a spaghetti dinner last Friday night for fellow veteran Tammy Appleby who is fighting for her life.

The 12-year U.S. Air Force veteran was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer in April.
PAVA spokesman Leon Meyer said the fund-raiser, which was $5 a plate, netted $2,000.

“A lot of people were very generous with tips and paid a little more,” Meyer said. “We didn’t have as many people as we anticipated but we had a good crowd and we’re happy that we can contribute that much to the family. Hopefully it will fill in there somewhere along the line for them.”

Husband Darren Appleby said he felt blessed to see the support.

“I knew it was going to be a good turnout. It’s a good community,” he said.
His wife’s diagnosis was a shock. She is 41.

“It was all pretty quick,” he said. “Her surgeon was just here. She worked under him in the Air Force and now he works at Integris. He thinks maybe she’s been working on this for six years.”

He and their children took turns speaking to Tammy by telephone during the event. She was hospitalized with a fever and could not attend.

“We’re making it,” Appleby said. “We’re holding strong. She’s a fighter so that’s a lot of inspiration for us.”

Tammy’s passion for veterans was well known to PAVA members and supporters. She works with veterans at PAVA to help them secure benefits.

“She’s stayed up here until midnight to help veterans with their benefits,” said PAVA volunteer Laura Silvester.

Appleby works for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Oklahoma City.

“She goes above and beyond what she does there and volunteers here,” Silvester said.
Appleby joined the U.S. Air Force when she was 18. She was medically retired 12 years later.

Donations are still being accepted by mail to P.O. Box 194, Piedmont OK, 73078 or contact Meyer at 405-373-4820.