Community trying to raise money to send dying Newberry woman to see her family
BARSTOW — Andrea Pruett suspects that Shirley Trueman is known and loved throughout Newberry Springs and the world.
As a regular at the Bagdad Cafe along Route 66, Shirley, whose husband Bud worked at the restaurant as chef, would greet the Newberry locals and entertain the tourists making an iconic Route 66 stop with singing and dancing, said Pruett, who owns the restaurant and is a longtime friend of Shirley’s. But Shirley is not singing or dancing anymore. Cancer ripped through her 62-year-old body in the past five months, landing her in bed and leaving her without a voice.
And after more than 10 years welcoming and entertaining travelers along Route 66, Shirley wants to make one trip herself.
“She needs to get back here with us,” said Shirley’s daughter, Tammy Totten.
Totten lives in Missouri and, along with Pruett, is raising money to fly Shirley back home so she can see her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren one last time before she dies. Totten said it would mean a lot to Shirley’s family if she was able to visit one last time. She last saw them at Christmas, but her health has deteriorated since.
“It’s just so hard to see how fast she went down,” Pruett said of Shirley. “Nobody expected her to get this bad that quick.”
Pruett said doctors found the cancer in November 2007. Since then, it has spread to her thyroid, two spots in her lungs, her colon and a tube above her kidneys. She underwent chemotherapy treatments and joked to Pruett how her hair was falling out. When Totten saw her at Christmas, she said Shirley was laughing and still fighting.
“Then the chemo just kind of took over and destroyed her,” Totten said.
Bud quit his job two months ago to care for her. Pruett spends as much time with her as possible and keeps phone calls short at the restaurant in case Bud calls and needs help. Last weekend, the Bagdad Cafe held a car wash and raised $149 for Shirley. Pruett said the community has helped but raising money in Newberry Springs is difficult.
“It’s a poor community,” she said. “We haven’t really gotten anywhere near what we need.”
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