CINCINNATI -- Michelle Davis learned just how special her dance family is when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and everybody wanted to help.
At age 39, Davis had never had a mammogram. She found the cancerous lump on herself and days later was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.
"Without a doubt the familial community that you build with a dance studio is really special," she said.
Davis is the artistic director at the Miami Valley Ballet Theatre, She has been teaching dance to students of all ages there for the last 12 years.
As soon as the families at the studio found out about it she says everyone was asking her, "What can we do? What can we do?."
As a mother of three, Michelle wanted most to regain a feeling of normalcy in her life.
"I had a lot of people at the studio that said what can we do to help 120 families and that was the biggest help that they could have provided, was to keep things normal for us," Michelle said.
They accomplished that in part by providing a free service called Meal Train. The service is a shared, online calendar that enables family and friends to schedule and organize the delivery of home-cooked meals.
Davis had six meals delivered every week during her 16 weeks of chemo therapy.
Her kids loved the food, she said, and the service gave her more time with her family. It meant she didn't have to spend as much time worrying about things like grocery shopping and cooking.
Davis said having those stresses off her plate gave her more time with her family and kept the focus on her recovery.
"It's been bad days, but also good days but I think thankful days that we have each other," said a tearful Davis.
Meal Train is one of many free resources the Cancer Support Community suggests to people battling cancer and their caregivers.
"It's very difficult for people after the first engagement to ask the question, how are you doing? Because sometimes they're afraid of what the answer might be and so you get this social isolation that comes with disease. I think meal train is such a brilliant way for people that need help to do it without having to ask for it directly," explained Rick Bryan, executive director of Cancer Support Community.
Some of the popular services at Cancer Support Community are the healthy lifestyle classes, tai chai and yoga.
Davis says the support of her real family and her studio family helped her get through the chemo treatments, "Even when I was having a bad day being at the studio helped me get through it."
"Being a role positive role model even for other people watching me go through this. It was important for me to continue to teach and be around the kids. Little kids would ask me questions about why I was wearing this hat and once they asked the question and I answered them honestly it was like, 'oh, OK,'" Davis explained.
"I think when they grow up and see what I was actually dealing with, that it will probably make them think a little differently about how to get through adversity."
Balance is key-- in life and in ballet, she said.
This week is a double celebration in the Davis household -- It's Michelle's last chemo treatment and her son Elliot's birthday.
To start a Magnolia sponsored meal Train, people living with breast cancer, their caregivers, friends or family can visit www.mealTrain.com/mmt and enter the code "MagnoliaC."
Leave a message of support for Davis, her family and all those affected by cancer in the comment section below.
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