My 6-year-old daughter, Allison (Allie-Mae) Brooks, has been diagnosed with Pre-B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Wow, it has been a year since her diagnosis, and it's still hard to accept as reality. "My 6-year-old has cancer." Sometimes I have to repeat this to MAKE myself to accept this unfathomable reality.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) 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.
On August 20th, 2016, at just 5 years old, brave Allie Mae began a grueling 29 month treatment plan at the Childrens Hospital within the Greenville Memorial Hospital System. Within the first 6 week intese cycle, she was in full remission (Praise the Lord!), however she still has to complete the full protocol of treatment. 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
At a time when Allie's focus should be making new friends, learning new sports and curriculums in school, playing, dancing, and twirling her hair; she is instead focused on learning new words like neutropenic, germs, chemotherapy, sanitize, immunotherapy, pallative care, neuropathy, wondering about short-term and long-term side effects of chemotherapy, and all of "unknowns".
"Will it be harder for me to learn and will I need a tutor because of chemo-brain? "
"Will my left leg always hurt after I play and will I always need those pain pills"
"Will my heart always flutter?"
"Will my hair fall out again?"
"Will I always be sick?"
"Will I ever be able to have my own kids?"
These are just some of the heartbreaking questions my 6 year-old daughter has asked. Yes, my 6 year-old, and quite frankly the answers to those questions are "We don't know, yet."
Those who already know Allie Mae have undoubtedly fallen in love with her quit wit, old-soul, and love for animals (cats especially). She is kind beyond measure, always thinking of others first. This child tries to take care of others, even though she is unable to properly take care of herself, yet. She has completely stolen my heart from the day she was born and has given me the greatest gift-motherhood. She is also a great friend, not only to her best friend Saylor Rose( they want to own their own animal hospital/pet shop when they are grown), but also to her little sister, Lizzy. They are total opposites and drive each other crazy most days, but there is absolutely no denying their love.
As a stay at home mom, I am able to care for Allison and Elizabeth most days on my own, however there are days when we need to call dad - which means no work pay for the day and sometimes weeks. The costs of out of pocket expenses, pathologists, oncologists, mutiple nights in the hospital, surgeries, medications, hotels, meals, sanitizing items, and continued care have become overwhelming.
As a mother, and with the cause of ALL being unknown, the questions are also overwhelming.
" Why her?"
"Can't I take her place?"
We, as a family, constantly have to keep our battle gear on, as our warrior fights. We know we all have to fight for this girl because, as scary as it sounds, the truth is- CANCER CAN WIN. It doesnt always win, but it can. We have made it 12 months, and only have 16 more to go, and want to extend a thank you to everyone who has already contributed to her fight.
We are almost at the halfway point!
This, my friends, is why I am sucking up my pride and asking for your help, again, in this battle. Its not always easy to admit you need help, but-WE NEED HELP, so we can make this fight a success, and conquer cancer.
Equally, if not even more important than monetary donations, are positive thoughts, prayers, and encouragement. Thank You, the most genuine, heartfelt, and sincere, thank you!
- Scott Shea
- Brenda Stewart
- Melinda Cole
- J E
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