Health & Wellness

Don‘t Stop Believing

by Amanda Bedgood

Race for local woman rocks the ‘80s.

Allison Walters doesn‘t look like the face of ovarian cancer. In April the 37-year-old headed to the emergency room after feeling off for a month and having difficulty going to the bathroom. She would leave that night with a far different diagnosis than anyone expected.

"I convinced her to go to the ER thinking it was a bowel obstruction," says her best friend Karen Nichols. "She was off getting X-rays and a doctor came in and it was an OB-GYN and I knew instantly."

That night Walters was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Within a month she would go under the knife to remove large masses of cancer, for a hysterectomy and for the removal of her appendix and part of her colon. She was preparing for a fourth round of chemo when we spoke with her friend Nichols. And her posse of friends? They were revving up for a 5K/Fun Mile in honor of the 1980s-loving lady.

"She worked out at Red‘s all the time. She played intramural kickball and football," Nichols says. "She‘s happy and vibrant and very outgoing and within one split second her whole life changes."

While Walters‘ life certainly changed - she even spent 17 days in ICU after an infection began to shut her organs down following the first round of chemo - Nichols says her friend tackled it with great spirit.

"The night she found out she said, It is what it is. I can‘t stress about it.‘ I don‘t think I could ever be that strong," Nichols says.

Walters, who has very limited insurance, is facing a stack of medical bills, and her friends like Nichols are working to knock that out. At press time 200 had signed up for the Don‘t Stop Believing 5K on Sept. 14 at Girard Park.

Nichols says they are working to turn the cause for Walters into a full nonprofit to help others down the road. Named Buddha Belly after a nickname Walters was given as a baby, the organization, Nichols hopes, will later fund ovarian cancer screening for girls.

Don‘t Stop Believing 5K/Fun Mile at Girard Park Sept. 14 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. with awards for the best dressed in ‘80s attire.