A former Top 20 finalist on 'American Idol' is asking fans for their help so she can pay for a life-saving brain operation.

Heather Cox Coe competed on the fifth season of the iconic reality singing competition, and after her run on the show ended, she settled down in the small town of Elkin, N.C. Now 31 and a mother of three, she has been diagnosed with a pineal gland tumor in the center of her brain after seeking treatment for recurring headaches.

The young mother was told that she would need a craniotomy to save her life, but the risky surgery could still lead to brain damage, or even death. She has since found another surgeon who can perform a less invasive surgery, but she and her husband, Curtis, are still facing daunting medical bills. They launched a GoFundMe campaign called Heather's Hope, where fans can contribute to her care.

Coe says staying in her small town instead of moving to Los Angeles to pursue music has literally been life-saving.

"Having the community's support as well as my church family has been one of the ways I’ve been able to stay strong through this," she tells the Elkin Tribune.

"With a small town, someone is always there to give you a hug, tell you they’re praying for you, as well as cook you a meal if needed. Big cities may offer more to do, but my small town has literally been a life saver."

So far her efforts have raised more than $57,000, bolstered by some PR support from fellow 'Idol' alumni Kellie Pickler, Mandisa, Chris Daughtry and even Carrie Underwood.

Despite her difficult circumstances, Coe is determined to continue to fight, in no small part because of her children.

"One of the most difficult thoughts that I have to battle is the thought of my three precious babies growing up without their mommy here," she says.

According to a post on Facebook, Coe is slated to undergo her surgery on Feb. 12 at Mission Community Hospital in Los Angeles. The surgery will be taped for an upcoming episode of 'The Doctors.' Her fundraising goal is to raise $100,000 toward her care. For more information, or to make a contribution, click here.

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