Never in a million years would I have imagined the doctor would say the words, “Allie has Cancer”.
Allie Mae Brooks was born on 1 October 2010. From the time she was a baby to this day, she has the most contagious smile that could melt anyone’s heart. On 11 August 2016, Allie had to go to the doctors, as her abdomen was swollen and she had multiple bruises that seem to appear from nowhere. Never in a million years would I have imagined the doctor would say the words, “Allie has Cancer”.
The doctors explained she has Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and it is a fast - growing cancer of a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes that crowds out bone marrow, preventing it from making the normal red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets that your body needs. Normal lymphocytes help your body fight infections. In A.L.L., the lymphocytes are cancerous and do not fight infections very well.
I had no time to even understand the diagnosis when the doctors came in to have me sign papers for treatment. So the very next day, on 12 August 2016, at just 5 years old, brave Allie Mae began a grueling 29 month chemotherapy treatment plan at the Children’s Hospital within the Greenville Memorial Hospital System. Even though we are FIRM believers in our Lord and Savior, I have felt helpless watching her suffer the harsh side effects of intravenous chemotherapy, intrathecal chemotherapy, subcutaneous chemotherapy injections, lumbar punctures, and bone marrow biopsies. Within the first year of treatment she has undergone:
- 1 trip to MUSC ( 2 nights were spent here)
- 3 trips to St. Judes
- 54 nights at Greenville Memorial
- 62 outpatient visits
- 5 bone marrow biopsies
- 8 blood and platelet transfusions
- 9 different types of chemotherapy
- 22 lumbar punctures
- 54 port accesses
- 2 emergency ambulance rides
- 1 time reaching neurotoxic levels of chemotherapy which resulted in long lasting seizures, 4 nights in PICU, and left our family with PTSD
This brave warrior has suffered so many pokes, prods, and different types of chemotherapy since her diagnosis, it is enough to make even the strongest person weak. She is so proud of
herself because she no longer cries when she goes to get her port accessed or her finger poked to draw blood to test her counts. She literally swallows the need to cry because she tells me, “I am brave!” That is the truth; she surely is.
Our family has gone down a path we NEVER would have imagined. Allie’s little sister, Lizzie, has endured drastic changes in the family dynamic! While she doesn’t undergo the pain and side effects of chemotherapy; her now immunosuppressed 16 month older sister no longer shares a room with her. Since Lizzie started K-5, the girls are very much separated for the safety of both of them. Since the day Lizzie was born, she and her sister were the BEST of friends and never left each other’s side. Lizzie’s 5 year old world has too been ROCKED.
It’s been over a year now since Allie first started her treatment. It is difficult to explain how “CANCER” has taken over our life. Not only has it drained us financially, we have had to turn to multiple family members to assist in the small things. If Allie is in the hospital, who will take care of Lizzie or pick her up from school? If Allie is having a bad day and needs peace and quiet, how do I ensure Lizzie isn’t “trapped” in a house where she can’t run and play and be the normal child she wants to be? It hasn’t been easy reaching out for help, but honestly, we have NO choice. I have learned humility through this process and learned what it truly means to drop to my knees and lean completely on God.
Allie’s dream, like most little girls who love princesses and fairy tales, of course is to go to Disney World. I am optimistic that ONE DAY, Allie will be well enough to fulfill this wish; and how I look forward to the day she has the energy to undertake a day at Disney World and be able to keep up with her younger sister.
We have a LONG way to go; however, we are taking it day by day- sometimes minute by minute. I am honored your family has chosen our family to help bring magic on Christmas Day!
Allie Mae is a very attentive and artistic child. She enjoys anything arts and crafts; i.e. scrapbook, quilting, coloring, making jewelry, etc. She loves lego friends, the process of following the directions, and seeing what she can build. After she builds, her imagination takes over! Speaking of her imagination, Allie is in love with cats- so much so, she calls herself Allie Cat! She “meows” as a way of her coping mechanism when she does not have the words to express how she is feeling. She thinks Grumpy Cat is hysterical. She collects kitty stuffed animals and beanie babies. Her favorite color is purple, and then blue. Inside games is what she is confined to right now; however, before her diagnosis, Allie was a nature lover (gardening, hiking, watching birds, etc.).