Local woman who recently completed radiation for cancer to benefit from yearly fundraiser

February 6, 2019

GERING — Tasha Torres, 29, was suffering from headaches and discomfort just behind her right ear. She tried to remedy the situation in a number of ways, including cutting her hair, thinking the weight of her long locks were the cause. She eventually went to the emergency room where she was informed she had a tumor. It would be several weeks before she could see a specialist in Scottsbluff and she didn’t want to deal with the pain anymore.

She had surgery to remove the tumor in Fort Collins, Colorado. A few weeks later, she received information that it was cancerous. She had synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Torres had to quit her job and move to Fort Collins for treatment. From Nov. 15, 2018 to Jan. 7, Torres received 30 radiation treatments. She had to move to Fort Collins while her husband and two girls, ages 5 and 10, remained in Scottsbluff.

“It was difficult times,” Torres said. “It was so hard to be away from them.”

Her 10-year-old daughter understood and Torres was able to discuss why she needed to be away. Her 5-year old daughter was less understanding. The family would visit on the weekends.

Torres’ family and her in-laws have helped as much as they can financially, but it hasn’t been enough. At the time, she didn’t have insurance, but was able to qualify for a share of cost through Medicaid, which requires Torres to pay $1,100 per month for coverage.

“After hearing Tasha’s story, it made me angry with the insurance and what they had to go through,” said Jo Mikesell.

Mikesell was in a position to do something about it. She is one of several friends and family of Keaton Bell, a young man who lost his battle with cancer in 2016. Back then, friends and family came together to host a volleyball benefit for Bell.

After Bell died, the fundraiser his friends started to help him was turned into the annual Keaton Robert Bell (KRB) benefit volleyball tournament in his memory. There are many organizations in the area that help youth. When Bell’s friends looked around the community, they saw a gap in organizations that can help people in their 20s.

“We try to pick people that may otherwise fall between the cracks,” Mikesell said.

Torres was chosen as this year’s recipient after organizers learned about her situation.

“It was amazing to feel the warmth from them (organizers) and the community that’s supporting us,” Torres said.

The family is struggling to make ends meet, said Joy Greenwood, a friend of Bell’s.

“Her husband is working, but he’s had to miss work, and they’ve still got bills coming in,” Greenwood said.

Torres recently completed treatment and is back home. She doesn’t know yet if she will have to complete chemotherapy. She has two wait three months from the end of radiation treatment to see if anything else is needed.

“I want to wait to start chemo until we know for sure,” Torres said.

Torres is grateful to Mikesell and everyone involved in the KRB benefit and what they are doing for her family.

“Honestly, I don’t have words enough to express my gratitude toward them and everyone who is helping,” Torres said.

Mikesell said the community has given so much to many organizations and she is thankful the money raised each year. The volleyball tournament has also been popular out of state.

“We have teams from Rapid City, South Dakota, who have attended every year,” Mikesell said. “They were touched by the story and love the tournament.”

A raffle is also being held in conjunction with the tournament. Items were donated by businesses and individuals and all proceeds will go to the Torres family. Prizes include two tickets to a preseason Broncos game, photo shoot with Nicole Smith, $500 cash, two half hogs and a laptop computer.

“There are enough prizes that you stand a decent chance of winning something,” Greenwood said.

Tickets are $1 each or six for $5.

The winning team will receive tournament T-shirts. Team attire/costumes are encouraged. Winning costumes will be determined by Torres and will be refunded their tournament registration fee. Registration is $75 per team. T-shirts are $15 each.

The KRB benefit volleyball tournament and raffle will be held on Feb. 23 beginning at 8 a.m. Games will be played at Gering High School and Lincoln Elementary School. To pick up or drop off a registration form, contact Jo Mikesell at Valley Ambulance by Feb. 20. For more information, contact Mikesell at 308-672-2579 or vbballers@icloud.com

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