SALT LAKE CITY — One Utah woman who has inspired millions with her “can-do” attitude reached a huge milestone, making a turn for the better following a battle with both cancer and COVID-19.
It was a walk a full year in the making for inspiring dancer Tia Stokes as she made her way down the hallway at Intermountain LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City Friday.
“Faith can move mountains,” said Stokes, who lives in Orem.
Stokes got aggressive blood cell cancer in 2020, then battled COVID-19 and had a bone marrow transplant in December.
“You just don’t give up. You just keep going, you keep moving, one foot in front of the other,” said Stokes who is the wife of Timpview High School’s football coach Andy Stokes.
She and her husband own Vault Dance Studios — a nonprofit that has raised almost $1 million for families going through challenges like cancer. They have locations in Orem and St. George.
Stokes documented her entire journey on social media, attracting the attention and support of millions.
Her cancer is now in remission, and Stokes’ doctor attributed that in part to her cheerfulness.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but for now, we’re really happy with where she is, and we hope that she just continues to get stronger and better,” said Intermountain Healthcare Dr. Daanish Hoda. “I think because she’s been so positive through so many complications and things she’s had, she’s fought through every single one of them and done really well.”
For Stokes, it isn’t just the end of a long, hard year; it’s also a new beginning.
“To know that you can go through those hard, dark times and to be able to fight, and to be able to live, and to be able to still be here for your family,” she said through tears. “I have gained new perspective on life, that, you know, we’re only given today, we only have this moment right now that’s in front of us.”
Her journey reached the finish line Friday when she rang the bell to wild cheering, signifying that her treatment was complete. She danced a jig and celebrated with loved ones.
“I fought so hard to be here today. It felt wonderful,” Stokes said. “It’s the excitement of knowing that I fought for my life, you know? That I fought to be here. I’m living today to be able to tell my story.”