Cancer patient still a singing ‘ray of light’ as community rises to support her

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PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — Carrigan Nelson was only days away from her next chemotherapy treatment but refused to let that get in the way of her latest singing gig.

Her mother Tammy said the 18-year-old performed last Saturday, then had to go to the hospital for a bout of pneumonia before undergoing chemo on Tuesday.

“She’s stayed remarkably positive through all of this,” Nelson said. “She’s still a ray of light.”

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Her daughter has been battling the rare bone cancer osteosarcoma for about seven months.

On Sunday, the Rotary Club will hold a fundraiser for Nelson from 4 to 8 p.m. at Atlantic Resort in Middletown.

The event will include raffles, a silent auction, and live music.

Nelson’s mother said it is “possible” her daughter will be able to attend the event but if not, they plan to provide a live feed from the hospital.

Coincidentally, Nelson was often a force in fundraisers for others, including two other Rhode Islanders who eventually lost their battles with cancer.

Portsmouth’s Hannah Wertens died last year after a long battle with acute myeloid leukemia. (It was the third time in her 15-year life that she had battled blood cancer.)

Hannah (Banana) Wertens_452602

Nelson’s mother said Wertens’ mom checks in on Carrigan every day.

Nelson also used her voice and energy to help raise funds for 10-year-old Gabe Littlefield, who died earlier this year from another case of osteosarcoma.

In a July Street Story, Nelson said her goal moving forward is to honor her friends by raising awareness about the signs of childhood cancer and the importance of early detection.

“You have to listen to your intuition,” she said. “Even if it’s just nothing, you still want to be on the safe side.”

Her mother said Carrigan now has four cycles of chemotherapy left and doctors expect the treatment to be completed by the end of the year.

That said, Carrigan is actively booking other performances, according to her mom, including a month-long commitment on the Newport Dinner Train in December. She’ll be featured on PBS next month on the Celebration of Music show.

“I give her credit,” Nelson said of her daughter. “She’s positive and energized.”

Email Walt at with you story ideas and follow us on Twitter: @StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.

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