Diner supports waitress with cancer battle

Heather Bahls and the manager of the Black Bear Diner Quint Clarkin. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

Heather Bahls and the manager of the Black Bear Diner Quint Clarkin. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

COTTONWOOD — The Black Bear Diner is asking people to come celebrate the birthday of their waitress Heather Bahls by having lunch or dinner and helping the 45-year-old life-long local resident with her battle with Stage 4 cancer.

The mother of a 7-year-old has become too weak from chemo to work right now, but will try to be at the diner part of the day on Tuesday, Feb. 13, when a portion of the day’s sales will go to support Heather’s medical needs.


Black Bear Diner in Cottonwood is hosting a fundraiser for long-time waitress Heather Bahls, who is battling cancer while raising her 7-year-old child, on Tuesday, Feb. 13. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

“When she can return, she will be welcomed back,” explained Black Bear Diner Manager Quint Clarkin. “Her spot is reserved for her.”

Bahls has worked at the Black Bear Diner since 2019. She was going to try to work every other week, but “the more I get into it, the harder it is.”

“It’s just exhausting,” Bahls said. “It just knocks me down for at least five days.”

She’ll do chemo for three months and then what the next step is.

Bahls said she had help from family, but that is what the Dine and Donate is for because it’s just her and her son, Connor.

The Black Bear Diner sponsors Dine-and-Donate fundraising events across the country and the local diner periodically puts on local fundraisers, explained Clarkin. The Verde Valley Humane Society will be at the Cottonwood diner for a fundraiser on Feb. 29 and the last one was for the Verde Valley Archaeological Society.

On Feb. 13, diners who want to support Bahls will present a digital scan or a nine-digit number when they pay, and those are available at the diner at the front desk, Clarkin said.

All diners have to do is mention Heather’s name and they want to donate to her fundraiser, Clarkin said. If they order on line, they can use that number also.

In 2023, Bahls said she suspected something was wrong with her health with what she thought was a bug. She was feeling badly and saw her doctor who ordered a CT scan. It was clear that there was a mass in her colon. Further tests revealed that it had metastasized to her liver. After a biopsy was confirmed she had colon cancer on Dec. 21 and they started chemo on Jan. 3, she explained.

Bahls said she had some help from her family, but that is what the Dine and Donate is for.

There are not many social programs that pay bills when a person becomes sick, even though there are some through the American Cancer Society. It’s just her and her son, Connor, she pointed out.

Bahls went to Cottonwood Elementary School, Dr. Daniel Bright and Mingus High School, worked and lived in Jerome and now lives in Cottonwood.

Bahls said her employer has been amazing. The illness came out of left field.

“Enjoy life more,” Bahls said. “Don’t wait to do things.”

Bahls’s donation page: https://www.givesendgo.com/HopeforHeather

Vyto Starinskas at vstarinskas@verdenews.com

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