In 2007, then working as a certified medical assistant and hoping to become a respiratory therapist, she was told she couldn’t work anymore.
“I was on my feet a lot, around sick people a lot ... but it got to the point where I was so sick I would go to work and my house supervisor would send me home,” she said.
Last January, while at a concert in Richmond featuring the Isaacs, a popular family bluegrass and gospel group, Conley heard a testimony by singer Rebecca Isaacs Bowman that gave her hope.
“She proceeds to give her testimony, and I kid you not, she explained everything that I am going through,” Conley said.
Bowman continued her testimony, telling the audience of a detoxification clinic she visited after becoming desperate.
“I saw it with my own eyes, she’s lost weight, she’s off all her meds ... her vision is fully restored, and she doesn’t have migraines anymore, can eat anything without it bothering her ... she’s completely restored,” Conley said. “. ... Of course, I’m doing the ugly cry right in the front row.”
After a trip to the bathroom to regroup, Conley decided to approach Bowman.
“She just turned around like I said her name. And that was it, we just started talking and she gave me the name of the lady that ran the clinic and the Web address, and ... said ‘Please call,’ and so I did,” Conley said.
The founder and director of the clinic in Nashville, Tenn., did a 15-minute consult, followed by an hour-and-a-half phone consultation with Conley, going through her entire medical history from the time she was 2 up until last January.
“And she said I was a perfect match for that program because I’m a conundrum, the perfect storm basically,” Conley said.
The two-year detoxification program costs between $40,000 and $50,000, and insurance does not cover it because it’s not medical treatment, according to the clinic’s website. Conley would have to drive to Nashville every 10 days to receive the treatment.
That’s where Mary Neal of Winchester, Conley’s neighbor of about five years, and other neighbors are stepping in to help.
They are planning a spiritual workshop fundraiser titled the Faith, Hope and Healing Conference at the First Church of God on Colby Road. Middle school to adult ages are welcome.
The fundraiser will start with a praise and worship session, and then men and women will break off into separate workshops led for the women by Trish Torline — a musician and worship leader — and for the men by Dave Scalf, pastor at Christ Church of Winchester, Steve Pearson, pastor at Church of the Savior in Lexington, and Paul Hollingsworth, associate pastor at First Church of God.
Neal said because doctors only gave Conley a 50-50 chance with chemotherapy, the clinic in Nashville is Conley’s last attempt at finding a cure.
“When you get this desperate, you reach out any way you can, you try to find the holistic approach, you try to find anything, because at this point you’re grasping at straws trying to find that cure or help or something else to try that you haven’t tried yet,” Neal said.
Neal said neighbors and youth at Christ Church have stepped in to help Conley and her husband with yardwork and house cleaning, and said “everything everybody is doing is basically a labor of love.”
“What I’d really like to see is the community rally around her so that her dreams can be possible,” Neal said. “You know, if it doesn’t get under control, it can be worse.”
The spiritual workshop is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 4, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. There will be breakfast served, a free nursery and door prizes, and all the profits will go toward Conley’s treatment.
Donations to Conley can also be made at Alliance Bank in Winchester, under the account name Faith, Hope and Healing.
“Normally I would never ask for money, but I think if it’s just money standing in the way of me being completely healthy, I think God has that,” Conley said. “But it’s hard because as appreciative as I am, it still bothers me. Mary’s taken all this time to do this and she’s working so hard, yet, I feel so guilty, because there are people that are in far worse shape than I am, I mean there really are.”
Pre-sale tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. To purchase tickets contact Neal at email@example.com, or 745-9937.
Contact Katie Perkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter, @TheSunKatie.