Before I begin telling the story, there are a few things you should know about my little sister. She is a great dancer, gives her all to everything she does, is full of laughter, can be a pain in my ass, and I love her to death. She is now a beautiful 18-year-old heading to college who happens to be in the fight of her life known as cancer.
It was January of 2013; Allie was in 8th grade and captain of her dance team. They were only a few short weeks away from the famous “National Championship” held in Orlando, FL that every dancer dreams to win in their career. She began having these episodes, which we later found out are known as focal seizures caused by a tumor in the front temporal lobe of her brain. February 3, 2013, Allie went to Nationals and danced with a tumor in her brain. They got 1st place and got the highly envied “White Jacket” (you get that for first place, I don’t know, I guess it’s a girl thing). Following the trip to win nationals, Allie was admitted into Le Bonheur Children’s hospital in Memphis, TN where she would have her first open brain surgery on February 14th 2013, a day that would change our lives forever. The tumor they removed turned out to be a highly aggressive form of brain cancer, Grade 3 Anaplastic Ependymoma. Immediately after her diagnosis, she became a patient at St. Jude and went through 33 rounds of radiation. From there she had a brain and spine MRI every 3 months to monitor the spot of the cancer (there is no cure or remission for Grade 3 Anaplastic Ependymoma).
Everything was “normal” until March of 2015. At this point my mother got diagnosed with Breast Cancer. That summer she went through surgery and chemo, which ended in early August. Unfortunately that was only the beginning of a bad 2015. In July 2015 my sister went back for one of her 3 month scans and found that the cancer had returned and spread, with a vengeance. She then had her second open brain surgery in August. The plan following the surgery was to do full brain and full spine radiation, followed by chemotherapy. My mother and my sister were then going to their radiation appointments simultaneously. September 22, my sisters birthday, was the day she lost all her hair. She finished her 2nd set of 33 rounds of radiation in late October. Because her form of cancer is so rare, they have many of the brightest doctors constantly researching and looking at her tumor and type of cancer. The doctors found that her tumor had morphed into a new kind of nasty animal, a high-grade glioma. For those of you that aren’t familiar with types of cancers, gliomas are very aggressive and have low survival rate with no cure. Currently the doctors have stopped all treatment because they decided that the chemo would only hurt. If the cancer does return they will have another surgery if it is in an operable area. Until then, she gets scans every two months. I’ll quote my sister here to close this story: “Statistics may be done with me…. but God is not.”
Many people don’t realize how much all of their donations help the kids at St. Jude. No family at St. Jude receives one medical bill for their hundreds of thousands of dollars of treatments they receive. St. Jude has pushed the childhood cancer survival rate from 20% all the way up to 80% today! St. Jude has personally helped my family a lot, and my sister wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them. I wanted to personally thank you all and tell you our story, and to let you know that you do make a difference.
How your donation helps:
- Thanks to donors like you, no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.
- St. Jude will continue to improve the treatment of childhood cancer and other deadly diseases through its groundbreaking research.
Join me! Together we can help St. Jude change the world.