Gwen Allgaier’s story


Green River High School and Rock Springs High School volleyball players heard from event founder Shawna Willmore, from left, breast cancer survivor Gwen Allgaier, event committee member Jodi Barnum, Commerce Bank Market Representative Ginger Schmidt, and MHSC Oncologist Dr. Zachary Nicholas, during the Servin’ Up A Cure banquet Oct. 3 at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.

Volleyball teams hear from a cancer survivor

ROCK SPRINGS – Shawna Willmore doesn’t know how much the annual Servin’ Up A Cure volleyball match has raised over the past nine years.

She suspects it’s well over $22,000. What she can say with certainty is the annual volleyball match raises much more than money. It helps raise awareness as a community – Rock Springs and Green River, in particular. The competition is on the court, but the teams raise money and awareness together.

Willmore launched Servin’ Up A Cure nine years ago in honor of her mother who died of pancreatic cancer. The main focus over these past nine years is to get the teams to set aside the rivalry and simply work together for a good cause. It’s about raising awareness and learning from people like Gwen Allgaier.

Allgaier spoke to the volleyball players Oct. 3 during the Servin’ Up A Cure banquet sponsored by Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer on Jan. 18, 2017, at about 11:30 a.m.

“I got a phone call from my doctor telling me I had cancer,” she said. “You may think that sounds mean, but it is the best thing he could have done.”

Allgaier told the 90-plus people gathered that the drive across town to the doctor’s office to hear the news in person would have been “awful.”

On the phone, the doctor told her: “I got the results. It is cancer.”

“I left work,” Allgaier said. “I called my brother.”

Her next call, was to her husband’s doctor. Two weeks before Allgaier’s diagnosis, her husband had a heart attack.

“My next concern was ‘Is my husband going to be able to handle this news?’”

The doctor assured her that her husband would be “medically, fine.” And, today, he is.

She then headed to her daughter’s house.

The coming months were something she could never have imagined. She underwent radiation treatment at Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, receiving her last treatment in August.

“There is no right or wrong way to go through cancer,” she said. “As long as you survive, you’ve done it the right way.

“I never thought it would happen in our family,” she said. “Nobody, not a single person … on my mother’s side or my father’s side, has ever had cancer. This is something I never expected. My doctor said, ‘you just drew the short straw.’”

She told the teams to be proud of the work they’re doing through Servin’ Up A Cure.

“My doctor told me, ‘I know you’re going to make it. You will be just fine. You will get through this. But if you’d gotten this 10 years ago, you wouldn’t have survived it.’

“So in 10 years, that’s how far research has come,” she said. “That’s how much raising money for research matters.”

Servin’ Up A Cure started nine years ago. The efforts of the volleyball players has made a difference.

And the Oct. 4 Servin’ Up A Cure volleyball match? The score was 25-11, 25-15, 25-17.

Everybody won.

Deb Sutton is the marketing and public relations director for Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.

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