IMPACT
05/31/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Sonya Beard Gives Up Fight With Cancer, Focuses On Giving Back To Her Community

Over the last fifteen years, Sonya Beard has been waging an exhausting battle with breast cancer and oral cancer -- and it isn't over yet. Beard's doctors want her to begin radiation therapy. But, at 74 years old, she's ready to call it quits, Tonic.com reports.

Instead of continuing cancer treatment, Beard is opting to spend her time and money giving back to her beloved Mount Vernon, Wash., community. So far, she has donated $500,000 to the Mount Vernon City Library, $165,000 to the Skagit Valley Hospital and paid off the mortgage at her church. Each of the places she touches has had an important role in her life.

"My way is to help as many as I possibly can," she says. "And if that helps future generations as well, that's even better."

Beard is even planning to create a foundation at the University of Washington Medical Center after her death. The foundation will provide funds for oral cancer patients to receive dental prostheses, something insurance doesn't cover. Beard is outraged that prostheses are considered "cosmetic" instead of recognized as necessary.

"It's not right to say that this is cosmetic when it's the only means you have for eating. There's way too many people walking around without teeth because they won't be able to pay for it."