GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — This week’s Wednesday Warrior is a loving mom, wife, and pillar to the Greater New Haven community.

Bernadette LaFrance is used to serving others, but after an unexpected diagnosis, her family and friends rallied behind her to keep her fighting spirit alive.

LaFrance said she was the proud recipient of the Knights of St. Patrick’s Knight of Honor a few years ago, something that was “an incredible honor” and a symbol of the women who paved the way in the Irish community.

“While I was the first woman to receive the green jacket I was not the first women to receive the honor,” LaFrance said.

The jacket was not only stitched with history, but also lined with the fighting Irish spirit — LaFrance’s fighting spirit.

“When I was very shockingly and unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago, I lost a lot of weight from the cancer and my green jacket hasn’t fit since,” LaFrance said.

Life stopped for a moment when LaFrance was told she had head and neck cancer. As a wife and mother, her first thought was how she she going to tell her three sons.

“Having to tell them and see the look on their faces as a mom, that was probably the hardest part for me,” LaFrance said. “The one thing that I waned to make sure was that their life wasn’t going to change as little as possible.”

That’s when the communities in which she serves — served her — in a big way.

“Thanks to the incredible love and support I got from all of our family and friends, the Irish community and especially the Guilford community and the Guilford basket ball community, everyone really rallied around my family,” LaFrance said.

LaFrance had to spend weeks at the Smilow Cancer Center and undergo three invasive surgeries in a matter of seven weeks.

“I’m used to being the one who is there for everyone else and doing the work so to have the whole community rally around especially not just me, but my husband and mainly my three sons, was the most wonderful gift, and I will be forever grateful for that love and support that got us through,” LaFrance said.

Since that day of diagnosis in September of 2018, LaFrance evolved and adapted to her new normal — much like the green jacket now being tailored to her post-cancer body.

The fighting Irish spirit is never cut away, because the person wearing this green jacket is a Warrior.

“I think that’s another trait of the Irish people that even in the face of adversity they are very positive and when that Irish spirt kicks in there’s nothing we cant achieve,” LaFrance said.

LaFrance is doing well, in fact, she said she’s thriving. She still goes for scans every couple of months and said her youngest son always sends a text that reads: “Good luck momma, even though you don’t need it because you are the strongest person I know.”

She gives a big thanks to her oncology team as well.