Ballerd family celebrate being cancer-free at Dance Marathon’s Big Event

The Ballerd family have been coming to Dance Marathon’s Big Event for eight years, and little Lauren has been cancer-free for six of them.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by James

A participant heads into the Family Room on the 3rd floor of the IMU during at Dance Marathon on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (James Year/The Daily Iowan)

Dance Marathon’s 24th Big Event is the Ballerd family’s eighth, and 11-year-old Lauren has been cancer free for six of them.

Sarah Ballerd and her two daughters, Lauren and Cammi, 5, of Bettendorf have attended the Big Event since 2010. Lauren clarified that Bettendorf is also in the United States.

When Lauren was 2, she was diagnosed with a Stage 4 Wilms’ tumor and was given a 85 percent chance of survival. She relapsed after treatment three times, each time causing her chance of survival to shrink from 85 percent to 50, then 25. The family finally tried a stem-cell transplant, which worked despite its low chance of success.

“We didn’t think it was going to work, but here she is six years later,” Ballerd said.

Now Lauren, Cammi, and 8-year-old brother Tre, who was at his basketball game with his father, celebrate her remission at the Big Event.

“I think [the Family Room] is their favorite room,” Ballerd said. “They can do the dress-up, the bouncy house, the crafts and everything.”

Lauren disagrees. Both she and Cammi said they enjoy the candy quite a bit, and despite their mother’s claim that they don’t like to spend time on the dance floor, Lauren likes dancing.

“I think I like the dancing the best,” she said.

Cammi would have eaten candy for breakfast if she could, and she wasn’t impressed with the apples and French toast sticks Dance Marathon served.

“I like the candy,” she said.

Lauren hid behind her hands and focused on her breakfast while her mother talked about Lauren’s journey and how she is happier now that treatment is over, even if she can’t remember much of it.

“She doesn’t have to get CT scans anymore, and she really didn’t like them,” Ballerd said. “She doesn’t really remember her treatment that much, since she was so little, but she’s glad we don’t have to go in every six months.”


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