How Dance Helped Valory Newton Overcome Cancer

by Bridget Conrad | 3/6/2019 8:34 PM

Photo Credit: @valorynewton on Instagram

There’s a good chance that everyone who reads this blog has been directly affected by cancer, whether personally or through a loved one. While cancer overall is one of the harshest things people encounter, it especially stings when it strikes children. This happened to dancer Valory Newton in 2015. When she was just 9-years-old she was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma that led to a left leg amputation below the knee. Although her recovery process wasn’t easy, today, I’m happy to say that Newton leads the life of a normal teenage girl who still has a strong passion for dance. 

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I’m sure many of you are aware of Newton’s involvement with the Dancers Against Cancer organization, and her success in competitive dancing, but I wanted to take a closer look at how dance helped she and her family deal with cancer gracefully. Recently, I got the chance to speak to Newton's mother, Dyana, about her diagnosis and how dance played a huge part in her recovery process.

1. Talk about the cancer diagnosis. How did Valory know that something was wrong and at what age was she diagnosed?

Valory was diagnosed on November 19, 2015 with osteosarcoma of the left lower leg.  It started when she was 9-years-old as a pain in her leg right during a dance competition. Originally, we thought it was just growing pains but then her leg became swollen, hard, and very warm to the touch. We went to see our doctor who recommended therapy, and the therapist send us straight to the ER. When the x-rays came back, it looked like her bone was literally chewed up and spit back out. The next day we saw the oncologist, did an MRI, and made an appointment to see a specialist in Columbus, Ohio. Ultimately, doctors recommended amputating her leg to stop the cancer from spreading. The whole process happened so fast!  

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2. After amputation, what did her recovery process include?

Shortly after we got the news that Valory’s leg would be amputated below the knee, she had her first chemo treatment on December 6, 2015, followed by her first surgery of limbs salvage in February 2016. Her amputation took place on April 23, 2016 and within 12 hours she was up and dancing again.  After her amputation, Valory returned to chemotherapy and became very sick with a fungal infection that included a very long and hard recovery process, but Valory was a fighter and came out on top. 

3. Since recovery is part mental and part physical, how did dance help Valory get through her amputation? 

During Valory’s treatments, we remained a strong part of her dance studio. Dance is her passion, so we took her to dance as often as we could in between treatments.  She danced in one competition that year and even danced in her studio summer recital. Dance was always the mainstay in her life and her dance family is like no other.  During treatment, they visited her and we had movie days and salon days at the hospital. I can’t begin to tell you about our amazing dance family! By keeping Valory surrounded by dance, it kept our routine as normal as possible. 

More: Passion=Motivation

Photo Credit: @valorynewton on Instagram

4. What is Valory’s status now? Is she consistently taking classes?

Today, Valory is cancer free! She continues to have scans every six months, but the further out we get the better her chances are of not relapsing.  Valory was consistently taking classes, but right now she has an infection from the lengthy hospital stays, so we are trying to get that under control before we head back to the studio. Currently, she’s participating in her school musical which has dance in it, and she is working on starting a dance team at her school. Lastly, Valory is currently working on becoming comfortable with using a prosthetic on her left lower leg. 

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