Baumhower: Fighting dancerWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Valory Newton is a beautiful 9-year-old girl from Walbridge, a fourth-grader at Lake Elementary School and a dancer from The Dance Factory in Perrysburg.
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 all 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 became unbearable. Her leg was unusually swollen, so her mom, an emergency room nurse, make a doctor’s appointment to get it checked.
On Nov. 26, 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 would be to remove the tumor wrapped around a nerve and her left fibula. Removing the nerve will cause Val to have “foot drop,” which means she will lose the ability to point or flex her foot. She will learn to walk again after six months of rehab. There is also a chance that Valory may lose her lower leg completely.
Valory began chemotherapy Dec. 5. This type of chemo will cause her to lose her hair. While this news would be devastating for any 9-year-old girl, Valory dreamed of a way to outsmart her chemo. She decided to cut off her hair and make it into a wig. Her family found out doing that would take about $2,000 and around 18 ponytails, each 10 inches long.
On Dec. 2, Valory struck the first blow in her battle. She and three of her friends cut their hair to begin the process of making a wig. Her “dance sisters” and their families organized a cut-a-thon at Modern Chic Salon & Spa in Holland, where on Dec. 6 they collected an astounding 186 ponytails — enough for 11 wigs, which the family plans to donate locally. Between the cut-a-thon, a GoFundMe campaign and a hot chocolate sale set up by two classmates, $9,000 has been raised, which will pay for Val’s wig and some medical bills.
Kelly Clark, a family friend and photographer from Josi Rae Photography, recently offered her services to capture Valory before her battle began. Valory chose a couple of dance outfits for the photo session, but first, she wanted to write something on her forearms. In black marker, you can read her words and see her spirit: “Fighting Dancer.”
Valory doesn’t want to be identified by the disease in her body. She wants 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. 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. For updates, visit her Facebook page, “Valory Newton — Support Our Dancer in Her Battle With Cancer.”
Jeremy Baumhower can be reached at email@example.com.