Cancer survivor holding benefit for Vancleave girl battling brain cancer

ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - Natalie Hightower took another walk Monday, and she is draining fluids on her own. Her family is still trying to decide what steps to take after they learned the tumor removed from Natalie's brain last week was cancerous.

Support for the 12 year old Vancleave girl is now spreading to St. Martin and Ocean Springs. One teacher is trying to rally the South Mississippi community to help Natalie's family through this difficult ordeal.

Stella Clegg is a second grade teacher at St. Martin East Elementary School. She has been busy planning a benefit for a Natalie Hightower, who's battling brain cancer. Clegg never met Natalie and she doesn't know her family, yet, she is determined to help them.

"I just saw the need," said Clegg.

Clegg has teamed up with Local Culture frozen yogurt in Ocean Springs to raise funds for Natalie's family. On Tuesday, June 4, 20 percent of the sales will go to the family to help them with medical expenses.

"You don't want to face that alone. I'm sure the family's just devastated," said Clegg. "My heart goes out to, of course, Natalie and her family. I couldn't imagine having a child or grandchild at this point facing all of that."

Clegg certainly understands the personal pain and financial burden cancer inflicts on families. Eight years ago, Clegg was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Not only that, her dad, six aunts and uncles, and her grandfather have all died from different forms of cancer.

"I was fortunate not to have to go through chemotherapy, but my dad was not. And me being the caretaker for him for a period of time before he passed away, I know how hard that is," said Clegg. "I know what it's like to have that love and support. So whatever I can do for the family, to pray for them and help them with financial things, I hope that would be of some comfort to them."

Her family's struggles prompted Clegg to start her own Relay for Life team at St. Martin East. She knows that when it comes to fighting cancer, you need everyone in your corner.

"The Vancleave community, as well as the St. Martin community, we're just family. We do for each other. That's just the way we are," said Clegg. "I'm supportive of whatever. It doesn't matter where you're from. If I can help someone in any way, I'm glad to do it."

The fundraiser is on June 4th at Local Culture on Bienville Boulevard in Ocean Springs. Clegg's son, Hunter Henley, is also planning a 5-K run for Natalie. That benefit is set for June 22 at 8 a.m. at Vancleave High School.

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