Community welcomes teen homePublished 11:14am Wednesday, July 2, 2014
More than 100 people lined the street of Pebble Beach Drive shortly after 3 p.m. yesterday to give a hero’s homecoming to Afton Wallace.
Many held signs with supporting slogans or sported their “#AftonStrong” T-shirts and bracelets. As the clapping, cheering crowd greeted her and her parents, shouts of “Afton” echoed throughout the neighborhood. As Wallace smiled, it was a joyful moment in an otherwise difficult battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma — a cancerous bone tumor that affects children and teenagers.
The 17-year-old Vicksburg resident returned home from Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., where she
has been since Memorial Day receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments for the cancer.
Once the family arrived, Afton’s father, Rob Wallace, greeted and thanked everyone personally for their love and support.
“I wish I could invite you all in for lemonade,” he said, sending the crowd into laughter.
He quickly followed with a more sobering message.
“Don’t catch cancer. It sucks,” he continued, “Words fail. We have been absolutely overwhelmed with love and support. Thank you.”
Many in the crowd were happy to give the love right back.
“I am so happy that she has improved enough to come home and that all of us could be a part of this and love on her,” said Hannah Jordan, a friend of Afton’s.
On May 22, Afton was diagnosed, with doctors saying the cancer had spread throughout her body to her lungs, liver, pancreas and spine.
On May 26, she was admitted to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and started chemotherapy the next day. A few days after that, it was time for two radiation treatments.
Before her diagnosis, Afton was a high school swimmer for Warren Central, a flute player in the Big Blue marching band as well as the Wind Ensemble, and an honor-roll student. In short order, the 17-year-old was forced to endure a lengthy hospital stay.
So far, Afton has triumphed through three rounds of chemotherapy.
Six months remain in the treatment process, much of it requiring overnight hospital stays.
“She’s a fighter.” Rob Wallace said when addressing the long road ahead.
As Afton’s battle waged, the support for her in Vicksburg has grown.
A Facebook page set up for her — online at www.facebook.com/aftonwallacemymissionisremission — has more than 3,500 “likes,” and yellow bracelets and T-shirts with the slogan “#AftonStrong” have been printed up.
A PayPal account has also been set up, and supporters and well-wishers can find information on donations by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Schroeder has confidence that her longtime friend Afton can beat the disease.
“I feel confident in the situation. I’ve never seen anything that Afton couldn’t do. She’s the best fighter in any situation. She’s just amazing,” Schroeder said.
“She can overcome this and I know it. This is just a thing to her. Since she was diagnosed she has done nothing but beat the odds. She’s gonna be a survivor.”