NORTH OGDEN -- When Mike Talley's doctors told him he didn't have much longer to live, his wife, DeeAnn, decided she better figure out how to earn a living so she could finish raising their children.
In 2002, the 46-year-old construction company owner was diagnosed with hepatitis C, an infectious disease affecting the liver. It was determined he had contracted the illness from vaccinations received when he enlisted in the Army at 17.
"Lucky for us, he had never done drugs and didn't drink alcohol, or he would already have been dead," DeeAnn Talley, 48, said. "As it was, his liver was entering the fourth and final stage of liver deterioration and was already showing signs of cirrhosis."
Treatment, which caused side effects so brutal he had to give up his job, didn't work, and he was given a maximum of five years to live.
DeeAnn had been a stay-at-home mother, raising the couple's 11 children.
"I knew I didn't have the skills necessary to provide for my family," she said. "I had absolutely no idea what field I would want to go into. Plus, I was discouraged and depressed about the prospect of losing my husband, so I basically procrastinated and wallowed in self-pity for quite awhile."
Realizing she better come up with a plan, DeeAnn started thinking of a career choice that would suit her needs. She hated every idea she came across, until nursing popped into her mind.
"I knew it was the perfect fit for me," she said. "It had to be something that allowed me to feel I was contributing to a better world and helping people."
She enrolled at Stevens-Henager College and maintained a 3.99 grade point average, graduating with honors.
"I learned that my brains had not completely turned to mashed potatoes over the years," she said. "I had to work super hard and learned that I can do hard things.
"I learned that when family pulls together and makes sacrifices, each individual grows in unimaginable ways. My family, including my husband, parents and our grown children were a huge support network for me. Also, more than once I found myself in my dean's office seeking encouragement and advice.'
She credits the school as being part of the support network that helped her through.
Talley now works as a nurse at Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston. She commutes from her North Ogden home several days a week. Her husband is still beating the disease that once threatened to cut his life short.
It may sound harsh, but Talley said the best advice she can offer others going through similar circumstances is to stop whining and cowboy up.
"Life is hard. Just pull yourself up from your bootstraps and make a plan, then work the plan and never give up," she said.
"If you do nothing, you'll be in the same lousy circumstances in a few years that you are in today. Go make it happen."