“I want to live, and I am going to.”
Teri Bode grew up performing. It was everything to her. In the late 80’s, she became a Cardinals Cheerleader. She went on to become a mom, and a second grade teacher. You could say Teri was dancing right through life — and then life gave her something unexpected.
“When he said it was cancer I dropped to the floor. Dropped to the floor.”
That was 15 years ago. She had a mastectomy, but two years later, the cancer came back in the same breast. This time, more aggressive.
“This lump stood out,” she says, “it was kind of like a marble feeling. Very dense. And you know something is not right.”
The cancer spread to her bones. For the past five years, Teri has been on chemotherapy every other week. It’s rough, and she says she will have to stay on chemo the rest of her life to keep the cancer from spreading to her organs. But she goes on every day, with an infectious smile a passionate love of life.
“There is nothing like a Teri selfie in the morning,” says Holly Wendt, a former NFL Arizona Cardinals Cheerleader. “Holding her mug with her dog Hugo sitting there.”
Cardinals cheerleaders have all rallied around their friend.
“We do joke that we cheered in Sun Devil Stadium, and it’s so hot in there it just welded us together forever,” says Wendt.
They encouraged her to join the 25 year Cardinals Cheerleader reunion. That meant performing prime time on Monday Night Football.
Wendt called up the Cardinals and explained the situation. The Cardinals said “we want her there” and they covered all of the costs for her to perform at the big reunion show.
It wasn’t so easy for Teri.
“I’m 49. I do chemo every other week. There is no way I can dance on that field.”
Bode’s daughter, Mariah, also encouraged her to go for it. So she fought through the pain, cancer in the bones, back brace, and all.
“I am so thankful that my girls talked me into it. So thankful.”
Teri has accepted chemo as her new normal. “I love life, I love my daughter so much I want to see her (grow older). No the cancer is not going to get me. I will continue to do chemo until it is my time,” Teri says.
This former cheerleader, now has a whole community of people cheering for her as she fights for life. All the while, taking selfies, smiling, and inspiring all those lucky enough to know her.
“I just want her to keep living,” says former Cheerleader Angela Nazario.
“We want her a part of our group forever,” adds former Cheerleader Michelle Ornstein Singer. “We want her to be on the field with us in another 25 years.”
One of Teri’s best friends who has been through everything with her is second grade teacher Jennifer Spector. She puts it like this, “I truly believe that Terri has kicked it and rocked it for so long because of her attitude. You don’t stop. When you stop fighting is when it ends.”