In September 2016, the DreamBall gala honored two inspiring ovarian cancer survivors and nationally renowned singers: Tony and Grammy nominated Broadway star Valisia LeKae, and teen sensation and America’s Got Talent semi-finalist Calysta Bevier. In this article, we will share with you Calysta’s journey – in her own words – as she described it during her DreamBall speech.
Hi, my name is Calysta Bevier and I am beyond thrilled to be here tonight. To be in the presence of so many incredible individuals is very humbling. I am extremely grateful to be honored as one of this year’s DreamGirls alongside the absolutely amazing Valisia LeKae!
Let me tell you all a little bit about my journey over the last year and a half and how, through the help of some amazing people in my life, I stand before you today, as of August 28th, 2015, a childhood cancer survivor.
Before I was ever diagnosed with cancer, I was like a lot of other high school teenagers. I was a Varsity Cheerleader with long light brown hair. We, the cheerleaders, would put our hair in up-dos with ribbons and bows every single game. I played volleyball. I hung out with my friends. We went to the movies and we LOVED to go to Cedar Point, an amusement park in Ohio. I was, needless to say, active.
In the summer of 2015, my sophomore year of high school, our family took a trip to sunny Orlando, Florida. We had an amazing week when, all of a sudden, I started getting sick. I will spare you all the gross details, but, I was really sick. One morning while I was in my bikini, my mom noticed a lump under my belly button. Her “motherly intuition” felt the need to call my dad into the room. My dad felt the lump on my belly. He described it as feeling “hard and flat, about the size of a softball.” He instantly said “that’s not normal…that needs to get checked out as soon as possible.”
Let’s fast forward about one week after the nearly-five-pound tumor, as well as my left Fallopian tube and ovary, were removed. My doctor says to us “you have stage III Ovarian Cancer.”
Wait….what?!?! I’m 15…..I can’t.
With an instant lump in my throat and as tears are building up, the doctor says, “with the aggressive treatment you will lose your hair.”
Wait…what?! Waterworks. I’m a cheerleader. That’s cruel! In the same breath I said “I know it’s ONLY hair, but, it’s devastating!”
The next few months were the worst. With 21 infusions over 3 months and multiple hospital stays, I lost all of my muscle and got down to about 80 pounds. I couldn’t eat. I was sick. I was vomiting. I couldn’t walk down the hallway without needing to take a break. I slept A LOT. I hurt all over. I got annoyed at the littlest of things. I lost my hair.
Through all of this, I stayed positive. I was going to have cancer regardless if I let it get me down or not. It could not, and would not, take my smile. I was determined to beat this. Cancer WAS NOT going to win.
Whenever I could, I hung out with friends. I sang. Friends would come over and we would have sleepovers. I was still a high school sophomore. I was a varsity cheerleader…and I cheered louder than ever…in front of hundreds…bald. I rocked that bald head. Cancer was not going to take away my power!!!
During this time makeup was a friend of mine. It was great for a little confidence booster when I needed it. That is why being here today brings me SO MUCH joy. The Look Good Feel Better workshop is made to empower us. It’s made for those days when we want a little “pick-me-up.” To be able to have an outlet when we’re not feeling the greatest is one of the most amazing feelings. To learn how to apply our own makeup during these sessions is priceless. I know firsthand how important makeup can be for the soul. I am so glad I was able to partake in one these workshops and see the joy it brings to so many already beautiful women. Some days we need makeup and other days we NEED makeup!
So, to wrap this up, I again want to thank everyone involved in giving me this incredible honor. It has been a privilege for me to have this platform to be able to speak and associate with so many amazing people.
I have been in remission since August 28th, 2015, but, my mission on this earth is just beginning.
For more information on how you could help women like Calysta through supporting the Look Good Feel Better program, please contact the Look Good Feel Better Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.