PORTLAND – A Newberg woman, who likened her battle with cancer to the Trailblazers’ Western Conference final against the Houston Rockets, has created a viral sensation on social media.
Haley Bellows was just 11 days cancer-free when she held up a sign during game four of the NBA playoff at the Moda Center Sunday that said, ‘If I can beat cancer, RipCity can beat the Rockets!’
Bellows, her head bald from chemo, was flashed on the arena's Jumbotron screen to swelling cheers as she held her sign during the fourth quarter of the Blazers game. And since then, the images have been shared over and over again on Twitter and Instagram.
Her indomitable spirit apparently struck a chord with fans and people across the country, including Trail Blazer point guard Damian Lillard.
"I don’t even know what I meant by 'If I can beat cancer, RipCity can beat the Rockets,'' Bellows told KGW Monday. "Its more like, 'I want on the Jumbotron and this is the sign that will do it!'"
The 22-year-old college student at George Fox University, described herself as a sports lover, a coffee addict and Jesus follower. She was diagnosed with a Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer two years ago, just after getting back from a month-long trip to Romania and Moldova.
"Like everyone who's had cancer in my family has died," Bellows said. "A lot of them were older and smoked, so they got lung cancer. But my perception of cancer is death."
Since then, Bellows has chronicled her ordeals in a blog:
“I have done all that I can to get rid of this cancer...I've invited poison to flow through my veins. I've laid alone in a room while fiery laser beams tried to diminish what is there. My body has been sliced open and stitched shut several times over.”
She also blogged about what the chemo did to her teeth and hair.
"You don't really realize the amount of value we place on our hair until we no longer have it. Being bald has left me feeling vulnerable and different. Being bald is a physical reminder of the battle for survival."
At times she’s been exhausted and dispirited but with help from her friends and her faith, Bellows said she's better for it.
“I have been stretched, broken, molded, and reformed," Bellows wrote. "I see life through much larger lenses, and I appreciate moments that tend to slip by unnoticed in seasons past.”
The outpouring of support she’s gotten on social media, her cancer remission and an edge-of-your-seat Blazer’s victory also seems to have given Bellows a rewarding moment at the end of a very long, hard road.
KGW reporter Pat Dooris contributed to this report.
You can order the Eff Cancer T-shirts that Bellows is selling here