Zumbathon to benefit woman who has cancer
By Joanie Morris
For the Salisbury Post
Vanessa Allred considers herself a lucky person.
Living a full life, the young woman has two beautiful children, a happy husband and recently just got back from a trip to Florida and another to Hawaii.
ěI donít really have much to complain about,î said Allred from her home in Rowan County. ěI have a wonderful family. I have wonderful friends.î
She has more to complain about than most. In March ,she was given only eight to nine months to live. But sheíll never utter a complaint.
Vanessa was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in June 2009. A type of bone cancer, it showed up in her lower right leg. After six months of chemotherapy, doctors removed the knee and lower leg bone and replaced them with titanium.
ěThey thought I was cancer-free,î said Vanessa. ěI went back after three months and they found spots in my lungs.î
The cancer had spread to her lungs, causing another round of chemotherapy and, in January, surgery to remove nine tumors in her lungs. After the surgery, she was home less than 24 hours before being rushed back to the emergency room with a collapsed lung. This was the new norm. In the past six months, sheís been to the emergency room and in and out of the hospital four times with a collapsed lung.
During one of those trips, doctors discovered she had more tumors in her lungs.
ěI did five rounds of radiation,î said Vanessa. After her surgery in January, she refused more chemotherapy.
ěThey wanted to do chemo after this last surgery, but it wasnít going to do any good,î she said.
Thatís when she started thinking more about quality of life, not quantity. Told the chemotherapy wouldnít prolong her eight to nine months left to live, she opted to research alternative medicine and treatments
Thanks to an anonymous donor, Vanessa took a trip with her husband to Hawaii for two weeks to take part in the Gerson Therapy, a detox and natural supplement therapy she really believes has helped her feel better.
ěI have more energy,î Allred said. ěEverybody keeps saying I look better. If it wasnít for the awful pains, Iíd feel much better.î
Allred attributes the pain to the growth of tumors. The radiation breaks the tumors up and lessens her pain, the only reason she continues to do the radiation.
During all of this, Allred has been amazed at the kindness and generosity of friends and strangers alike. Her church, First Baptist, held a hot dog fundraiser and sent her family ó husband Shane, daughter Brenna, 13, and son Jackson, 9 ó to Walt Disney World. Friends held a corn hole tournament to raise funds for her, and others have thrown yard sales.
ěI am so thankful to everybody thatís done something,î said Allred. ěThere have been so many people who have done so much. I canít write thank you cards, because Iíd be writing them all the time.î
On Friday, even more friends and strangers will gather for a Zumba Glow at the First Ministry Center, 220 N. Fulton St., Salisbury.
Heather Caltrider, a friend of Allredís from East Rowan High School, said she just felt like she should organize something to help the family with medical bills, which have added up to more than $2 million. Allredís insurance has paid what it can.
The Glow will be held at the center, formerly the Salisbury YMCA, where the lights will be turned off and participants will be able to do Zumba under the glow of blacklights. Participants are asked to wear neon or white clothing. Six Zumba instructors have donated their time and a DJ will spin tunes for free.
ěI thought it would be a good way to raise a lot of money for her,î said Caltrider. Zumba-lovers can participate for $10, all of which will go to help the Allred family with medical bills.
ěItís pretty amazing,î said Allred. ěI had no idea when I got sick that so many people cared so much.
ěYou donít really think about that much until you get sick,î she added. ěThey good comes out in people. You see things in a whole different light.î
Allred said sheís not bitter about the hand that life has dealt her, and in fact has found pleasure in the simple things in life. She doesnít take a single second for granted.
ěThe way I look at it is, the doctors donít know,î she said of her eight to nine months, which would expire in October or November. ěGodís the only one that knows when weíre going to die. Ö
ěYou kind of just have to make the best of what youíve got and not think about it.î
The Zumba Glow will start at 7 p.m. on Friday and costs $10 to attend. For more information or to donate for Vanessaís medical bills, contact Heather Caltrider at 704-267-6202. A prayer page has been set up on Facebook where prayer warriors can get updates about Allred and learn prayer requests. Search ěPraying for Vî in the Facebook search tool.
Joanie Morris is a freelance reporter for the Salisbury Post. She can be reached at 704-797-4248 or firstname.lastname@example.org.