Wallaces to raise money for cancer research

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 8, 2015

Afton Wallace, center, stands with her parents Rob and Sheri outside their home in May.

Afton Wallace, center, stands with her parents Rob and Sheri outside their home in May.

The father of a Warren County teen who died of a rare form of cancer two days after graduation told members of Port City Kiwanis this week that the family is starting a foundation to benefit pediatric cancer research.

The organization is in the works and will sponsor swim meets across the country in hopes of raising money and awareness, said Rob Wallace, whose daughter Afton died of Ewing’s sarcoma May 24.

“We’re trying to use what has happened to us as a way to help relieve the suffering of others,” Wallace said. “I would challenge you to do the same. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be as simple as doing chores for someone else when it’s not your responsibility.”

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In September, which is pediatric cancer awareness month, a swimming fundraising event will be held in Vicksburg, he said.

“Of all of the money the government spends on cancer, estimates are that only about 4 percent go toward pediatric cancer,” Wallace said.

Often, young patients are given drugs that showed promise for other types of cancer rather than having medication developed specifically for them.

“That’s not good enough in my opinion,” Wallace said.

Afton was faced with what no one wants to face, yet she constantly kept a positive attitude, her father said.

“The example that she gave me and my family, and she put me to shame, is that every day she had a choice as to whether she was going to put a smile on her face or whether she was going to curse God and die, as the book of Job talks about,” Wallace said.

Afton was a competitive swimmer and started having pain in January 2014.

“We just thought it was part of the pain that you get from exercising,” her father said.

That April after months of pain, Afton went to see a doctor but it was too late. The cancer had already metastasized.

“I don’t believe that. I don’t believe God inflicted Afton with cancer so he could be with her,” Wallace said. “I believe that a lot of things happen because God does not want to take away from us our agency. What we choose to do with what we are given is the most important decision we make while we are here on Earth.”