Instead of moving to LA to pursue her dreams after landing in the Top 20 of American Idol in 2006, Heather Cox Coe decided to stay in her small home town of Elkin, N.C. — a town she says is now helping her stay alive.
In 2010, the blonde beauty, who impressed judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson on season 5 of American Idol, was diagnosed with a pineal gland tumor in the center of her brain after she went to the doctor to check out her constant headaches, migraines and non-epileptic seizures.
Heather on ‘Idol’ back in 2006 (Photo Credit: Getty)
Doctors said they’d have to perform a dangerous craniotomy, which could leave her with partial brain damage or, even worse, dead. Luckily, she was able to find another medical professional who could perform a less invasive surgery — but countless bills racked up for her and her family during the four-and-a-half years she’s lived with the condition.
The mother-of-three was forced to set up a fundraiser so she can have life-saving brain surgery. On Sept. 20, the community joined forces for an event and raised the $30,000 initial down payment for the procedure. Idol pals Kellie Pickler, Mandisa, and Chris Daughtry, have all brought attention to the cause.
“Having the community’s support as well as my church family has been one of the ways I’ve been able to stay strong through this,” the 31-year-old said in a new interview.
Heather and Ryan (Photo Credit: Heather Cox Coe)
Heather revealed the singing competition’s longtime host Ryan Seacrest tried to convince her to move out west to kick off her singing career after her time on the show, but she decided against it.
“With a small town, someone is always there to give you a hug, tell you they’re praying for you, as well as cook you a meal if needed. Big cities may offer more to do, but my small town has literally been a life saver,” she explained to the Elkin Tribune, adding her three children, Lucius, 5, Jayden, 2, and 1-year-old Kaylen, and husband Curtis have kept her strong.
She and her family are hoping to raise an additional $100,000 to pay off her hefty hospital bills, travel to and from LA for the surgery this October, and their loss of income over the years. So far, they’ve raised nearly $30,000.
Taking to her GoFundMe Page, Heather thanked everyone for the endless support.
“THIS IS A HUGE THANK YOU to family, friends, anonymous donors, and to total strangers who felt it in your heart to give; you are all AMAZING and my heart continues to cry THANK YOU!!!!
You can watch Heather’s Idol audition below:
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