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UPDATE: Meet St. Jude Patient Sarah Marchbank, a Tiny Dancer and Just One Reason to Attend Dancing Against Cancer

little ballerinas
Eamonn McCormack/Getty Images

Last year, I wrote about a brave fighter who in the midst of chemotherapy and radiation, decided that she must dance on.  That’s exactly what Sarah Marchbank has done.  Sarah’s story is filled with courage and tenacity!  Read on, be inspired, catch the UPDATE at the end of the blog and we’ll see you at Dancing Against Cancer this Sunday.

St. Jude patient, Sarah Marchbank

In the summer of 2007, Sarah was practicing for her upcoming Nutcracker performance with the thought of cancer in her tiny body weighing on her mind.

Sarah’s dad, Johnnie, had battled stage III Hodgkin lymphoma when he was 21 years old. Which gave Sarah’s parents the insight to watch the health of both Sarah and her twin brother, Blake.

When Sarah found a lump on her neck, she told her mother. After a trip to the Dr. and antibiotics, the lump was still there, so Sarah visited a specialist who suspected an infection.

Unfortunately, an infection was stage IV Hodgkin lymphoma. Characterized by the progressive enlargement of affected lymph nodes, this cancer occasionally spreads to the spleen, liver, bone marrow, bones or lungs. Sarah had an appointment at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital affiliate in Shreveport, Louisiana, and soon the family was at the hospital’s main campus in Memphis, Tennessee.  That’s where the battle began.

The family was in disbelief when the Dr said that chemotherapy would only be 12 weeks and that he expected her to continue dancing and going to school. We tell you that St. Jude is a hospital without walls, sharing their information freely with the world.  That’s why Sarah was able to continue her treatment at a hospital just two hours from her home. Allowing her to continue her ballet classes! In fact, the goal of performing, helped keep Sarah focused while she continued her hectic course of chemotherapy.

After her third week of chemotherapy treatments, participated in a dance recital. She was bald, but she danced!   Despite slowly losing her hair and her strength, Sarah’s confidence never faltered.  Sarah said “God gave me strength to make it through.”

Her mother said  “To see her on that stage still dancing is a blessing.”

Dancing Against Cancer has Northland dancers together on one stage, not in competition, but in camaraderie to raise money to benefit the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Many of the performers will be showcasing their competition routines, just like Sarah.  This gives them great practice to perform in front of an audience and allows friends and family the opportunity to see what they use to miss because competitions were often held out of town.  Not only are you helping to raise money for the kids of St. Jude, but you’re supporting our local dancers too!

You’ll see performances from several studios including,Elite Dance Productions, dreamdance Academy, Desert Caravan Dance Troupe, Shooting Stars Dance, UMD Dance Team, Beledi Middle Eastern Dancers, Duluth Dance Center, North Dakota Ballet Company, Halo Muzic and Leigha Joy Wallin, who came up with the idea for this fantastic fundraising event with her mother, Merry!

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

UPDATE:  In October of last year, I received an email from the Marchbank family.  Sarah had read the blog and this is what her mother told us:

Sarah has been in remission for 5 years and continues to do well..we are pleased that her story continues to inspire others!

Blessings to you Sarah!

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