26-Year-Old Thought She Had a Virus, But It Was Terminal Cancer. Now She Wants to Enjoy 'Every Ounce' of Life Left

Maddy Baloy, who was diagnosed with stage IV cancer last year, opens up to PEOPLE about documenting her life on TikTok and completing her bucket list

<p>Courtesy of Maddy Baloy</p> Maddy Baloy.

Courtesy of Maddy Baloy

Maddy Baloy.

It was only a year ago that Maddy Baloy, now 26, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Confronted with the life-altering news, she resolved to make the most out of the time she has left, which includes crossing a few things off her bucket list.

“My mind shifted, and I was like, ‘I am going to get every ounce of life that I can out of this,'" says Baloy, whose candid confessions and day in the life videos have touched a cord with her nearly 400,000 followers on TikTok. "There’s nothing we can do. So I may as well have some fun.”

The former kindergarten teacher at Shore Acres Elementary in Florida began experiencing stomach issues in the summer of 2022. She spent over a year cutting out different foods and changing her diet.

“I was really trying to solve it for myself," Baloy tells PEOPLE.

But on Feb. 22, 2023, she began vomiting repeatedly and having sensory issues. Convinced it was "either a worm" or a stomach virus she picked up from one of her students, she went to urgent care with her fiancé, Louis Risher.

Related: Daughter Completes Bucket List Her Late Dad Made the Year She Was Born: 'I Know He's Proud'

During a CT scan in the emergency room, doctors noticed abnormalities in Baloy’s large intestine that required emergency surgery. Once they began, they found numerous cancerous tumors pressing on her large intestine.

Afterwards, her loved ones made an "executive decision" to wait until she woke up to tell her the news. "They wanted me to have one more peaceful night of sleep before knowing that I had cancer,” Baloy says.

<p>Courtesy of Maddy Baloy</p>

Courtesy of Maddy Baloy

Related: Terminally Ill Student Fulfills Bucket List Dream of Presenting TV Weather Forecast

Coming to terms with the news wasn't easy.

“Immediately I thought, ‘Okay, my life is now so completely different’,” Baloy says. “There is no planning for a home and children."

Initially given just five years to live, even that isn't a given. “I've been told several times that just based on my X-rays, I should be dead right now," she says.

Related: Single Mom Given a Year to Live Makes Bucket List with 2 Sons After Terminal Cancer Diagnosis

After feeling "so alone and isolated," she decided to join TikTok to document her journey and show what it's really like to be a young woman living with terminal cancer.

"I knew that I had a lot to say," she says, emphasizing the importance of allowing yourself to experience "every single emotion while we're here because we're not going to be here for long.”

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One video in particular that has resonated with people is her bucket list video, filled with 19 things she wants to accomplish, including summiting Arizona's Camelback Mountain — "I have beef with this mountain," she quips — convincing someone to stop dieting, getting a tattoo with her grandma and a secret 20th item that's just for her.

Recently, Baloy was able to cross another item off her list by meeting Gordon Ramsay, which she says was "everything" she hoped it would be.

“He's just the coolest man in the world,” she says. “He gave us the VIP A-list, celebrity experience."

Another item she hopes to check off? Having a "beautiful wedding."

“I do not have a lot of money… but Gordon offered to take care of the food," she tells PEOPLE, adding that she's also gotten offers from others to help her out with her wedding dress, venue and music needs. "I'm so lucky."

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One year from now, Baloy hopes that “27-year-old Maddy” will have achieved even more of her goals.

“I hope my fiancé and I are getting out of our car with our wiener dog, and we are going and sitting in a national park with our toes in the river," she says, "and we are just smiling about the beautiful opportunities that we’ve had."

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Read the original article on People.