For Dale Acton, the escape is invaluable and the happiness he feels for the moment is unforgettable.
The 49-year-old spends some of his nights at the Killeen Special Events Center watching members of the Wicked City Derby Damez Roller Derby League going around the roller rink helps him forget about the whirlwind his life has been through in the last three months.
Watching blockers knock jammers onto the unforgiving concrete floor takes him away from the pain that comes with suffering from the Stage 4 that his cancer has developed into.
“I still haven’t fully accepted all of this,” Acton said.
The Derby Damez will host a full day of action on Saturday at the Killeen Special Events Center to help Acton and his family with the cost of medical treatment.
Admission to the event is free and fans can donate money at the event. Doors open at 11 a.m. and the first roller derby bout begins at noon.
Acton was diagnosed with lung cancer on Oct. 27, 2013, when he was living in Gastonia, N.C. He found out about the cancer because he went in to seek treatment for a hernia in his stomach and that’s when the tumor was detected.
Damez league founder Jerri Bullock has two children with Acton, and their son, Jared, 26, is currently stationed at Fort Hood.
The family drove to Gastonia to pick Acton up and relocate him to Killeen so he could spend some time with his family, and Bullock started putting together the event.
“It’s overwhelming,” Acton said. “‘Wow’ is the word that comes to my mouth. What’s she’s done is amazing, she started this whole thing up and I never could have dreamed she’d do this. This is my first love, I started skating in the ’70s.”
Acton has metastatic cancer, a form that can spread from its origin part of the body to other parts.
According to the American Cancer Society, when cancer cells break away from a tumor, they can travel to other areas of the body through either the bloodstream or the lymph system.
Acton has gotten out to some of the Derby Damez’s practices. Last Thursday, he put on a pair of skates and watched as his grandchildren Haven, 6, and Jameson, 3, played at the facility.
“I sort of go back to being a kid and forget about this for a little while,” Acton said.
Bullock set up an account for Acton on gofundme.com because he does not have health insurance. As of Friday afternoon, Acton’s account had $790 and is short of the goal of $10,000.
According to the site, the last donation for the account was made a month ago.
And for Bullock and the family, the emotional toll has also come with a price.
“Cancer’s real hard,” Bullock said. “We know what stage he’s in, we’re not disillusioned. You can’t be given a date because nobody knows when he’s going to die. You’ve got to make the best of what you’ve got.”
Bullock founded the Derby Damez League in 2012 and it has since developed into a close-knit group of women. The team knew how important the cause was for their founder.
“Are we looking for him to get cured? No, but everybody deserves the treatment,” Derby Damez coach Krista “Lil Shanksta” Young said. “We’re just doing what we can to help with the finances.”
Bullock said the event will draw over 100 skaters from out of town and the number of vendors at the event was 50 as of Thursday night.
For Soni “Sierra D-Range” Berkhemer, the event gives people a chance to check out a new sport and help out a good cause. Both of Berkhemer’s parents are cancer survivors.
“This is really important to me because I know it’s important to my mom and dad,” Berkhemer said.
Contact Albert Alvarado at email@example.com