WRIGHT CITY, Mo. — It started as an idea to dress up, one day for chemotherapy. It turned into an internet phenomenon.
A woman in Wright City is taking her battle with breast cancer to social media, but it's not just to document her battle, it's to inspire others.
Jeanine Cahoon's daughter, Phoebe, may be the star of their family, but she learned how to be a drama queen "at the feet of the master" — her mom.
"The applause keeps me going," says Jeanine.
Cahoon has always had a passion for theater, but that took a backseat when cancer entered from stage right.
"And I found a lump on the side of my armpit on a business trip and I flipped out and called my doctor and thought it was nothing because that doesn’t happen to anyone I know," said Cahoon.
She immediately began aggressive chemotherapy that wreaked havoc on her mind, body and soul. She coped the only way she knew how - by reaching into the costume closet.
"It had a keyhole port across the front of it that fit my port really well so it just worked and I threw it on and I threw on some makeup and they lost their minds at the lab. And it fed me," she said.
She quickly found she had a wildly supportive audience, from fellow cancer patients to the hospital staff.
"Eventually there was a betting pool in the nurses - what is she going to wear today? And it was written in my charts," Cahoon jokes. "I had to keep going. I had to keep making it worthwhile for myself and for them and it helped me get through it."
She donned everything from a bathrobe to a ballroom gown. Even Marilyn Monroe made an appearance.
"Yeah I was pale but I could do this crazy stuff with my makeup," she said.
She found an even wider audience when she started posting them all to social media.
"So if that little bit of energy can be carried off for someone to benefit from, I’m fine with that. I love that," she said.
After six months of treatment, she went into remission. That intermission wouldn't last long.
"Suddenly I started feeling dizzy. Any time you have a consistent symptom that doesn’t change," she said. "Something was wrong."
She learned last month, not only had her cancer returned, it's also metastasized to her brain.
She memorized the exact words from her doctor.
"Listen I’m not going to sugar coat this. This is serious. Normally when it comes back like this in such unique places, it’s usually advised that you make best of the time you have," she said.
Jeanine says she'll always use her humor to cope, but admits, Act II of this battle is much more serious.
This is part of what she wrote last week on Facebook.
"I’m going to be a squalling sexy flagrant undignified child show off through this whole glorious grotesque process and I need you to watch and applaud and hoot uproariously," she wrote.
This go around, she's dedicating her performance to her little drama queen, in the event it's her curtain call.
"But if I can condense enough of me into this so that she’s got at least a little bit of that. Then maybe I’ve been captured enough for her to have a good idea of who I am," said Cahoon.
Because while she plans to fight like hell to make sure she watches Phoebe grow up, she wants her daughter to know either way - her mother had spunk in both sickness and health.
"It’s not ugly, it’s not scary. We can do this and you can do it too if you have to. It’s OK," she said.
Jeanine's family does need help with medical expenses.
You can donate to her GoFundMe page here.