Facebook used to help cancer victim

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
What began as a status update on social networking site Facebook has turned into a saving grace for a China Grove woman.
Vanessa Allred wrote on her Facebook page in July that her doctors found a large tumor on her leg that had to be biopsied. That tumor turned out to be a sarcoma, a form of cancer that was found in her knee cap.
The message was read by many classmates from East Rowan High School’s Class of 1994. Now many of her classmates have stepped up to say a prayer, cook a meal and plan a community yard sale to raise money for Allred.
Allred is a stay-at-home mom and her husband, Shane, is the only one working. Her insurance has almost reached its cap, after which it will not cover her medications.
Former classmate Kelly Hunsucker could not stand by and do nothing. He has been on the other side, being the spouse of a person with an illness. His wife, Wendy, has a brain tumor.
“I know how it is to have a spouse who is sick and what kind of strain on the family it is emotionally and financially,” he said.
He’s also actively involved with Relay for Life, a fundraising event that benefits the American Cancer Society.His mother-in-law, Becky Sifford, owns a China Grove wig shop that specializes in fitting cancer survivors with wigs.
Hunsucker and other classmates have set up an account for Allred at Community Bank of Rowan to help with medical expenses.
Response to the message that was posted to Facebook has been overwhelming. One former student, Sarah Vickrey Faries, set up a meal schedule on a social scheduling/ polling site called Doodle.People have committed to cooking the Allred family meals Friday through Sunday on a rotating basis.
“She usually can come home on weekends. We want her to be able to just spend time with the family,” Hunsucker said.
The Allreds have two children, a girl and boy.
It is a must to place a name and meal on the site, so there are no duplicate meals.
Since last week, Allred has spent much of her time at Duke University Hospital in Durham because her immune system is low.
Hunsucker said she has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for more than a month. The first week was a round of aggressive treatments. The tumor is fast-growing.
“Doctors are planning to take the tumor out in October. Once it decreases, they will do a knee replacement,” he said. The ultimate goal is that by next year, Allred will be cancer-free.
The classmates wanted to do more. Crystal Gault came up with a simple idea: sell stuff. The group has organized a community yard sale that will be at East Rowan High School, 175 Saint Luke Church Road, Salisbury, Sept. 26 from 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
The sale will be set up in the school’s parking lot along U.S. 52.
There will be clothes, and household items, collectibles, baked goods, hot dogs and drinks for sale. Hunsucker is hoping to get local businesses involved by donating items for a raffle.”All proceeds will go to Vanessa,” he said.
There are classmates as far-reaching as Maine who have expressed interest in helping.
“A saying from my church is, ‘When God speaks, we step,’ ” Hunsucker said.
He attends High Rock Community Church.
“If I can prevent someone from going through that totally or a little bit, I will,” he said.
Make donations to Community Bank, c/o Vanessa Allred Medical Account, 322 E. Innes St., Salisbury, NC 28144 or 313 E. Centerview St., China Grove, NC 28023.
To prepare a meal, visit http://www.doodle. com/bmynqb34myd6tz3w.