The right side of Chris Spalding’s head remains shaved, revealing a 16 inch scar.
In a recent performance, the world champion ballroom dancer highlighted it with rhinestones. This was in part out of solidarity with others facing battles with cancer, Spalding said.
“I won this thing, and I’m going to show it,” Spalding said. “I am proud of the fight I have led. I think it’s beautiful, and I’m going to make sure everyone who has to go through this fight knows that they are not alone and that they should show it too.
The 38-year-old’s persistence in a more than a year-long battle with brain cancer has left his doctors, nurses and therapists stunned by his will, attitude and progress.
Before an operation on May 19, 2020 to remove a tumor occupying a quarter of his brain cavity, Spalding was told he could no longer walk or speak. But in less than a week, he was teaching his therapist cha-cha and tango as they walked the halls of the hospital.
“That’s when I realized everything was going to be fine,” Spalding said. “I just had to fight. Fortunately, I am really stubborn.
Co-owner of Fort Wayne Ballroom Company with his wife Kelly, Spalding has created a Facebook page, “Dancing Through Life with Chris,” where he shares his journey with family and friends.
He and his friend from Fort Wayne, Kyle Miron, also a cancer survivor, have also created another Facebook page, “Cancer Samurais,” where they answer questions and help other people with cancer.
Spalding also raises funds by cycling 200 miles with the Great Cycle Challenge to fight childhood cancer. In July, he wants to complete an Ironman race. And he asks physiotherapists to suggest to patients with Parkinson’s disease or who are recovering from physical challenges such as stroke, serious injury, or cancer so that he can use his dance skills to help them overcome them. form. He said being a dancer had helped him and he thought it could help others.
“I have to believe that’s why I got held up here,” Spalding said. “I must be destined to serve. I really enjoy what some people have to go through, and that’s why I have to spend the rest of my life helping them.
Spalding and his wife, three-time North American and one-time World Champions, first danced in December after her surgery for a local fundraiser. Although the couple have retired from professional competition, they will return in a national ballroom dance competition, the “Winter Solstice Dance Competition,” at Memorial Coliseum on December 4th. The event is open to the public and Spalding has creative ideas because he is inspired to say something artistically.
“I just have a very different perspective now,” he said.
The Spaldings dance studio was closed during the pandemic. A month after quitting, Spalding suffered a stroke which led to the discovery of the tumor.
The couple moved the business to The Charles, 3127 Carroll Road, and reopened on June 1, 2020, but Spalding was only able to resume teaching in December due to surgery and chemotherapy.
“We used to wake up and look at each other and say, ‘Better than the alternative,’ Kelly Spalding said.“ Sometimes it’s easy to groan or be dissatisfied with certain things. is not finished, but it is certainly better than the alternative.
The couple met at a Chicago studio and moved to Fort Wayne 11 years ago to put down roots.
“We joke that on a global scale God was watching everything that was going on and he had to do a reset button,” said Kelly Spalding. “How lucky Chris and I are to have this reset so early in our lives because we have so much life to live with with a clearer perspective and sensitivity to what really matters in life, and more importantly, to whom matters in life. “
For Chris Spalding, a big question is why did he survive when many others he has received treatment with did not. It became part of his willingness to help others.
“I will spend the rest of my life making sure I am worthy of the title of ‘survivor’,” he said. “There must be a reason I did it, and I’m going to make sure I fulfill that reason and purpose.”