Iowan 'kicks cancer’s ass' at Garth Brooks’ request
Teresa Shaw recalls the night her attendance to a Garth Brooks concert turned into a viral internet video after she held a sign up a sign that said, “Chemo this morning, Garth tonight, enjoying the dance.” Kelsey Kremer/The Register
MASON CITY, Ia. — Nothing was going to stop Teresa Shaw from seeing Garth Brooks on a late fall night in 2014.
Not even cancer.
Harnessing her strength after a morning of treating the disease, she crafted a sign with eight bold words: “Chemo this morning. Garth Tonight. Enjoying 'The Dance.'"
When Brooks saw her holding the sign in the audience, he stopped in the middle of performing "The Dance" to a crowd of thousands at the Target Center in Minneapolis. He crouched down on the stage to give Shaw a hug. And then he stood up, holding her sign, and made a booming proclamation: “You will kick cancer’s ass.”
A year-and-a-half later and she has indeed kicked cancer's ass. Shaw, 48, of Mason City, learned that she officially entered remission for her triple-negative breast cancer.
And now, with Brooks set to perform in Des Moines for the first time in 23 years, she has plans to re-connect with the country star, who lost his mother and sister to the disease, before one of his shows at Wells Fargo Arena.
“I survived,” she said. “It made me realize … you never know what’s gonna happen in your life and whose path you’re going to come across. I would get messages from people saying “you’re so inspiring,” and I felt like I was just a normal person.”
To pay forward that outpouring of support, Shaw is volunteering with Relay for Life and has given lectures on her experience with Brooks. She is also working toward being a Reach to Recovery volunteer with the American Cancer Society, where she would work with breast cancer patients.
“I just had cancer and had to do what I had to do to get through, and if I can help anybody else get through this, that’s what I want to do,” Shaw said.
That night helped give Shaw the energy to beat cancer, she said. But it was clear Brooks also took something away from the interaction
“It’s a reminder to all of us,” Brooks said to KARE 11 News in Minneapolis after video of his exchange with Shaw went viral. “We can sit here and we can think we’re workin’, we can think, ‘Oh, my God … two shows on Friday, two shows on Saturday.” Well, this woman goes through chemo in the morning (and) comes to the show at night. Nothin’s hard after that. That puts it all into perspective.”
'Chemo this morning. Garth tonight. Enjoying 'The Dance.'
Shaw said it's "unreal" that her connection with Brooks didn’t end when the media frenzy died down. The two met in person again in Omaha, and talked about her children, Brooks’ tour and remission. (Brooks and Shaw had also met a few days after the Minneapolis concert, orchestrated by the "Entertainment Tonight" TV show.)
“It was like talking to just an ordinary, everyday person,” she said. “He was so easy to talk to and I felt so comfortable. You just get the feeling (that) you can sit there and talk to him about anything.”
The sign that started it all hangs on Shaw's living room wall, above the acoustic guitar — now in a glass case — that Brooks handed her on that November night in Minnesota.
It is framed, and an autograph from Brooks reading “Luv ya! God bless your family” can be found on the back. Shaw said Brooks told her he kept the sign in his locker on tour until giving it back to her last May when they met in Omaha.
That show was on Mother’s Day, and Shaw said the crew gave her flowers.
“It was like meeting a friend … just a friend,” she said. “He gave me a big hug and asked how I was doing.”
Shaw’s daughter, Alyssa Perrin, said watching her mother go through chemo was difficult. But she said the interaction with Brooks came at the perfect time.
Perrin looks back at the moment and describes it as "humbling."
“She needed that boost,” Perrin said. “I could just see her faith growing even more. … She taught me that there’s things in life you can’t control and you have to keep that (positive) attitude and everything will turn out OK.”
Garth Brooks serenades fan with cancer, gives her guitar
'It was beautiful'
Viral moments of celebrities or athletes showing their human side surface on the internet sporadically. It’s not uncommon to run across an article about pop star Taylor Swift lending a hand to a fan in need or NFL quarterback Russell Wilson visiting children in a hospital.
Does that mean it's a publicity stunt? Rey Roldan, a publicist with more than 20 years of experience in the business who owns his own public relations firm, said he thinks these moments, such as Brooks' interaction with Shaw, are "absolutely" organic.
“It shows the very human side of an artist, which I actually like,” Roldan said. “It humanizes the artists in the way that they’re no longer these ‘untouchables.’ It endears fans to them.”
Brooks addressed that when he and Shaw were reunited on "Entertainment Tonight."
“My fear would be that you would think I ever did it for anything but it was a nice moment. It was beautiful,” Brooks said to Shaw on the show.
Shaw said she feels all her interactions with the country superstar have been genuine.
She said she’ll be enjoying “The Dance” again in Des Moines when Brooks brings his tour to Wells Fargo Arena. Brooks, who will hold a new conference in Des Moines on Saturday, was not available to comment for this story.
A year-and-a-half after catching Brooks' eye at the Target Center, what does enjoying “The Dance” mean to Shaw?
“Enjoying ‘The Dance’ is just enjoying life and what life has to hold,” she said. “The good and the bad.”
Garth Brooks in Des Moines
When: Six shows from Friday to May 3
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, 233 Center St.
Price: More than 90,000 tickets were sold, and the six shows are sold out.
More info: For show times and other information, go toiowaeventscenter.com.