Sami is not only our best friend, she is a fighter and an inspiration to anyone and everyone that has crossed her path. There hasn’t been a friend, doctor, nurse, or janitor whom she has not touched and made a difference in their lives. She is curious and caring by nature. She always wants to know who people are, what they do, why they do it, and how she can help them -- regardless of the state of her own struggles.
Through Sami's many experiences (growing up in Oyster Bay, NY, attending school at Portledge and OBHS, summers at Island Lake Camp, a grand adventure teen tour, studying at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, graduating from the California Institute for Integral Studies, practicing yoga, attending the Landmark forum, working as a pre-school teacher and living in New York, Boston, Florida, LA, SF and Bali), Sami's overflowing kindness towards others has attracted countless friends along her journey and her positive presence has made an impact on all.
While Sami continues to exemplify this care and compassion toward others, Sami now needs us too.
Sami has battled health issues that few could possibly imagine over the last 8 years. In the last 7 months, Sami's medical circumstances have become increasingly difficult -- battles (detailed below) that no person should ever have to endure.
Sami's Health Journey
Samantha was diagnosed with a giant cell tumor (the size of a peach) wrapped around her cervical spine (the neck region), having eaten away at her upper vertebraea and causing immense pain. The tumor was removed, and her neck reconstructed of titanium, in a herculean surgery that lasted dozens of hours. She then proceeded through many rounds of proton radiation to ensure the tumor was completely eliminated, as doctors anticipated it would be nearly impossible to ever operate on the region again.
During a regular scan, doctors discovered that the tumor had recurred. The tumor was once again removed, despite the risks doctors had been concerned about years earlier.
Sami had been complaining of a sore throat for many months with increasing pain. Eventually, she was hospitalized and doctors discovered that the tumor had recurred, but was inoperable because it was wrapped around her dominant artery. They were able to start her on a drug to halt the growth of that tumor, but the pain in her throat was still unexplained.
Eventually, doctors found that the plate used to reconstruct her neck in 2010 had now perforated through her esophagus. Doctors operated again - despite the risks - and attempted to repair her esophagus. The repair failed as the esophagus suffered a leak. Doctors then operated a second time, this time using tissue from her shoulder to replace the esophagus. This operation also failed, and a fistula formed that connected the back of her throat to a hole in her neck. From then until now, when Sami swallows anything it exits a hole in her neck rather than proceeding to the digestive tract. As a result, she has been eating and drinking solely through a feeding tube for many months.
Soon after these surgeries, doctors suddenly found a new, more aggressive tumor within the spine that did not look like the previous giant cell tumors. Sami started to lose feeling and strength in one of her arms. Doctors operated immediately - despite the risks - one final time and were able to remove 97% of the tumor. The remaining 3% would be addressed in chemotherapy. In the meantime, Samantha underwent a tracheostomy to allow her to breathe through a tube while she healed. Upon examining the tumor, it was shown to be a high-grade osteosarcoma -- a very rare form of bone cancer that almost never appears in the spine. This anomaly was presumably induced by the radiation she received in 2010.
As she healed, she also lost her voice. It seemed that the 3% of the tumor that had just been removed had quickly grown back to double the size of the original. It was compressing her larynx (voice box) and the C5 region of her spine, and blocking the airway, meaning that she would need to remain on the trach tube for breathing, and would still be unable to speak. She communicates solely through lip reading since her ability to write using her dominant hand was also affected by the tumor's location on the spine.
After three rounds of chemotherapy, the tumor growth was slowed at best, but unfortunately has progressed and has now limited Samantha's feeling and strength in all four of her limbs. She can no longer stand or walk, and cannot sit up without tremendous nerve pain in her arm. Doctors admitted there was little else they could do but buy more time with chemotherapy, and also admitted that doing so would guarantee it would be low quality time suffering through the pains of chemotherapy.
With this, Sami and family turned back to their roots -- holistic, eastern and alternative medicine. Sami is seeing many alternative healers -- from light/sound therapy to Qi Gong to Reiki to natural herbs and supplements. But most importantly, Sami is turning toward the powerful healing that comes from being on the water -- with fresh air, plenty of sunlight, and the peaceful sound of ocean waves.
As of February 16, 2018, this is the plan. Sami and family will be living in a house on the beach to be together and heal in the most natural way. This GoFundMe is being used to pay for that healing and all that comes with it. We thank everyone for there thoughts, prayers and energy that come through this campaign and elsewhere.
Sami gets through each day by manifesting that this is not just “something that happened to her” but that this is "an opportunity for her to make an impact and transform the lives of others." Instead of using it as friction, she uses it as momentum. Sami likes to say: "I'm not a sick person, I'm a happy healthy person with a circumstance."
Most importantly, the message Sami wants to share with the world is that of gratitude. To be grateful for every breath, every bite, every sip, every utterance, every step, every itch, every laugh. There is so much to be grateful for.
Despite everything she has been through and everything that still faces her, she still has an alarm set for 8PM every night entitled "Gratefulness Exercise" in which she asks everyone around her what they are grateful for today. She always has something to say, no matter how much pain she is in, nor how frustrated she is. If there is one characteristic to describe Sami that everyone who knows her can agree on, it would be that she is an inspiration to all.
In Sami's words: "If what I’m going through can make a difference on the planet, it would have been worth it.”
Follow Sami's journey by visiting her on Facebook:
Samantha Allen's Personal Facebook Page
Samantha's Magic & Miracles Facebook Group
And watch her inspirational videos on YouTube:
Sami's Journey Journals on YouTube
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