Baumhower: Fighting dancerWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | email@example.com
Meet Valory Newton.
Valory is a beautiful 9-year-old girl from Walbridge, a fourth-grader at Lake Elementary and a dancer from The Dance Factory. She is the daughter of Dyana and Tom and has two older sisters and a younger brother.
Val’s been dancing for five years, over half of her life. But now cancer is trying its best to make sure she doesn’t step-ball-change ever again.
Last month, Valory was dancing with a lower left leg that had been bothering her throughout the summer. Her parents thought it was a combination of growing and dancing.
“One minute her leg would be hurting, the next she was on the trampoline” her mom, Dyana, recalled.
It wasn’t until early November that Valory’s pain increased. Her lower leg was unusually swollen, which made her mom, an emergency room nurse, make a doctor’s appointment to get it checked out.
On Nov. 26, after numerous visits to various doctors, the family traveled to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, where their worst fears were confirmed: Valory has osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, in her left fibula.
Doctors told Valory’s family the best action is to remove the tumor that is wrapped around a nerve and her left fibula.
“The fibula only supports 18 percent of your body’s weight,” Dyana said. “The nerve that will be removed will cause Val to have ‘foot drop’, which means she will lose the ability to point or flex her foot. She will be able to learn to walk again after six months of rehab.”
There is also a chance that Valory may lose her lower leg completely.
Valory will undergo chemotherapy starting Dec. 5. This type of chemo will cause this beautiful dancer to lose her hair.
While this news would be devastating for any 9-year-old girl, Valory has dreamed of a way to outsmart her chemo.
Valory wanted to cut her hair off and make it into a wig. She wants to wear her own hair again. Her family found out it takes about $2,000 and around 18, 10-inch ponytails of hair.
At 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2, Valory struck the first blow in her upcoming battle. She and three of her friends cut their hair in a celebration to begin the campaign of making a wig.
The wig project is a perfect distraction for a 9-year-old girl and her young friends. It’s also a perfect vehicle for the community to show their love and support. Her “dance sisters” and their families are trying to raise the $2,000 to pay for her wig.
They’ve set up a GoFundMe site in Valory’s name.
They’ve also organized a cut-a-thon to collect more ponytails from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 6 at Modern Chic Salon, 6910 Airport Hwy., in Holland
A couple of weekends ago, Kelly Clark, a family friend and photographer from Josie Rae Photography, offered her services to capture Valory before her battle began.
The 9-year-old chose a couple of dance outfits and mashed them together for the photo session. But first, she decided she wanted to write something on her forearms. In black sharpie, you can read her words and see her spirit: “Fighting Dancer.”
Valory didn’t want to be identified by the disease in her body. She wanted to be identified by who she is.
In July, Valory was in Sandusky competing with her Dance Factory team; this month she’s in Columbus battling cancer.
My hope is that our community will step forward and make sure this child will be able to wear her hair again. It seems almost basic.
No child should ever have to deal with cancer or watch their friend battle it. Let’s show all of these dancers and dreamers what a community means, and how we are there for each other.
It’s never too young to witness the size of our community’s heart. Let’s teach them about love.
May God bless Valory and her family. Cancer may take her leg, but it will never steal who she is: a dancer.
To contribute to Valory’s quest for a wig, visit http://www.gofundme.com/hxch5k.
To get updates about Valory, visit her Facebook page at Valory Newton – Support Our Dancer in Her Battle With Cancer.
Jeremy Baumhower of iheartglasscity.com can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jeremytheproduc.