ATLANTA, Georgia (WXIA) -- "I think we have a very happy family," 7-year-old Claire LaSalle said, sitting on a bed overflowing with pink ruffles. "And I think the best thing about my mom is that she's fighting cancer." On the last line, she makes a right hook motion.
Margie LaSalle found an egg-sized lump in her breast last September. "It just came out of nowhere," she remembers. Her doctor put her on a fast track and determined she had breast cancer. After surgery and chemotherapy, Margie thought she had beaten it. Instead, her doctor discovered it had metastasized.
"It was everywhere, my legs, my spine, my hips," Margie said. "And when we found out, I asked the doctor about the prognosis." Here Margie takes a deep breath and tears start to form. "And she said two and a half years."
Margie said friends took their kids that day and she and her husband, Chris, "fell apart." Chris agreed with the recollection: "It was the worst day of my life."
It's a diagnosis difficult to deal with as an adult, perhaps even harder trying to explain it to 5-year-old John Mark and 7-year-old Claire. "We decided to be honest," Margie said. "I wanted to give them the information in a way they could understand, so they didn't fill in the gaps with something much scarier." Later she added: "I am not dying. I promised my kids if that changes, I will tell them. So, they don't have to be scared waiting for the other shoe to drop."
Margie's friend, Laura Bowman, helped answer some of the kids' questions with a Children's book called "Always and Everywhere." The book stars John Mark and Claire remembering their mother's advice and learning to believe in angels. Laura compares Margie's and her friends to dolphins: "I've heard that when a dolphin is sick, other dolphins surround it and hold it up until it gets better or dies. So that dolphin doesn't have to face the trials of nature alone. That's what we're doing for Margie right now."
The LaSalle Family read the book together for the first time last Friday. "John Mark cried," Margie said. "He really made the connection right away. I held him and said, 'Are you worried about your mom?' and he said 'Yes, I don't want you to die."
Chris told his son he was proud of him: "I was proud he could show his feelings." When asked about his own feelings, Chris said it was an emotional night. "I just can't protect them from this."
Margie and Chris say they're trying to keep things as normal as possible in their Austell townhouse. Close friend, Susan Hochman, said Margie always puts her kids first. "When those kids walk through the door, she immediately smiles. They don't know what she's going through. She's a rock in that way."
I asked Chris about that looming deadline: the two-and-a-half year prognosis. "Sometimes it's like there's a ticking clock, but other times I look at this woman I love and think she's getting better," he said.
Claire said, "I don't like to think about that bad cancer. I like to think about being free."
Now this Marietta family of four is fighting for that freedom. Freedom from that ticking clock. Freedom from cancer.
Laura's book, "Always and Everywhere," is on sale now. All proceeds will benefit the LaSalle family. They're hoping money raised can help them purchase a ranch-style house since Margie is having difficulty going up and now the stairs.
Written by Julie Wolfe