A cancer patient and his doctor shared the floor in an emotional ballroom dance performance to celebrate his cancer-free diagnosis.
“[It was a] dream for me to be able to express myself with someone that helped save my life, and to show other people that you can bounce back,” said Steve Valentine, a former patient at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif. “That was a goal for me, to get up and to walk and to dance out of this hospital.”
Valentine was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma in January 2016, for which he required aggressive chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments.
Knowing that Valentine was an award-winning dancer, his oncologist, Dr. Irene Hutchins, told him that she was also trained as a dancer in hopes of lifting his spirits.
“I said to Steve, ‘When you get well and you get out of the hospital, you’re going to get your strength back, and we’re going to go out dancing,’” Hutchins said, in an interview with the hospital.
Valentine has been dancing all his life, he said, and specializes in ballroom style dance.
When his weight dropped from 175 pounds to 127 pounds during treatment, the hardest part was losing his strength and athletic abilities.
“There was a light at the end of the tunnel going through treatment at the hospital when I learned she was a dancer,” he said. “There was someone on my team that was just like me — that was a dancer, that knew not only the medical side but the athletic side of who I was.”
Sure enough, when he was declared cancer-free, the pair performed an emotional dance at the hospital’s annual cancer benefit earlier this month.
“Dancing with Steve is an amazing privilege,” his doctor explained. “It combines my two biggest passions, my passion for dance and my passion for medicine.”