Fighting For Her Life

Junior diagnosed with rare cancer, students raise money in support


Photo contributed by Shelby Walter.

Despite her illness, Shelby Walter was still able to attend her junior prom.

“I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have stage one cancer.”

That statement shifted junior Shelby Walter’s life forever.

At 16 years old, Walter was diagnosed with Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma at the beginning of March. Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare uterine cancer with an average of only 350 cases per year in the United States.

“I was scared and surprised because a lot of people can die from cancer,” Walter said. “But they told me the chemo responds well to cancer and I’m only a stage one so my survival rate is good.”

Walter has a chemotherapy treatment every Friday. While in Wichita Falls, she gets her blood drawn and medicine pushed through a port. She also goes to Dallas and receives treatment that takes all day, she said.

“I just sit in a room and hooked up to a machine and I usually feel really sick after that for a few days,” she said. “I am nauseous all the time and can’t keep certain foods down.”

Because of the strict restrictions of her chemotherapy, Walter’s life has been altered.

“It changed my life because I am now home schooled and have to be careful going out,” Walter said. “I can’t travel. I have to get up every Friday morning for chemo, and if I get something as simple as a fever I will end up in the ER.”

Love and support for Walter flooded in once she announced her diagnosis. Students began selling t-shirts to raise funds for her.

“There were shirts sold for me and lots of people signed my poster, and I’ve gotten a lot of donations from people everywhere to help with medical expenses,” Walter said. “People who barely spoke to me or haven’t talked to me in a while messaged me and said they’re sorry and that they’re there for me. I have been getting lots of support from the school.”

Cancer may have changed the way other people acted towards her, but Walter said her friendships didn’t change.

“I’ve only been close to a few people,” Walter said. “I still see my friends regularly after they get out of school and all that as long as they’re healthy.”

Through this experience, Walter said her family has pulled together.

“My grandma came to visit from Germany for two months while my mom’s at work,” Walter said. “My dad also came to visit.”

Walter said her boyfriend, junior Joseph Trevizo, always supports her in any way that he can, and through it all, he continues to be a constant for her.

“He comes to chemo with me when he can, and he has offered to clean up my throw up,” Walter said. “He helps me when I’m too weak to walk and will help me get my medicine and brings me candy.”

Trevizo said being a boyfriend means “fighting through it with her” and helping in any way possible.

It was difficult for Trevizo when he found out that Walter was diagnosed with cancer, and he said Walter reacted better than he did.

“I got up and walked out of my 7th period and ran to her house to be with her,” Trevizo said. “I cried for like three hours straight and Shelby said  ‘Stop being a wuss.’ She was really brave about it compared to me.”

Trevizo said Walter’s cancer has not been a hardship on their relationship.

“We’ve been able to see each other more because she doesn’t have to work,” Trevizo said.“I can go over there almost every single day as long as I’m not busy. It makes it almost easier, except for when she’s having a bad day with her sickness. ”

Both Walter and Trevizo try their hardest to handle the cancer the best they can.

“Even though I’m a stage one, I still have this life threatening disease,” Walter said. “I kind of take everyday as my last.”