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Allison Hawkes' story: Four-time cancer survivor since the age of six.

Allie journey began in June 2000 when she was in kindergarten. Early in the year she started to have an upset stomach, but doctors couldn't find anything wrong. In June, with Allie in more pain, doctors decided to do some blood work. After that, things moved very quickly and as mom Christen explained, "I now know when things move fast it's usually not good. One moment we're playing soccer and the next moment we're at Floating Hospital."
 
Allie was scheduled to see a GI specialist for a colonscopy. But after studying test results, doctors knew they were dealing with something else. Allie had a mass on the adrenal gland of her left kidney. She had Stage 4 neuroblastoma and was admitted right away. High doses of chemotherapy were started and surgery planned. Christen said that when Allie was diagnosed she was relieved to know what was wrong and that the physicians at Floating Hospital for Children’s Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology had a protocol to help her. Allie was so brave throughout and so mature. That first night she looked at Christen and said "Geez, Mom, you cry a lot." Her saying that reminded Christen to be strong and help her.

After five months of high dose chemo, several bone marrow biopsies, CT scans, and two stem cell harvests, Allie underwent a nine and a half hour surgery to remove the tumor. Allie's kidney didn't survive, but her spirit did. What followed for Allie and her family was a week in intensive care, Two bone marrow treatments using her own stem cells, 15 days of radiation, and 6 months more of an oral chemo  and through it all the support of the Child Life staff. Particularly when Allie was in isolation recovering from her BMT, the Child Life specialists became family. They played games with Allie, kept her spirits up and supported Allie's parents too. And brave Allie made sure she was kept laughing. Before she would take her medication, she made sure she was told a funny joke.

In April 2005, Christen got the news that every parent fears - Allie's cancer relapsed. She was eleven and in the 5th grade. Lesions were found on her liver and spots on her bones. From April 2005 to November 2008, Allie received high dose chemo and spent most of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade in-patient or in clinic. Thankfully, that all led to a "no-evidence of disease" finding. For the next two years, Allie enjoyed life - cancer free. 

A routine scan in December of her junior year of high school showed an area bone again showing evidence of nueroblastoma.  She then harvested more stem cells before undergoing intensive IV radiation therapy, spending several days in a lead-lined isolation room.  This was followed up with oral chemo until a clear scan in July.  She was ecstatic to get this all done quickly and get ready for her senior year at Methuen High.  She was monitored throughout the year and was finally able to have the infusa-port removed just in time for prom.

In the summer of 2012, Allie was ready to head off to Wheelock College to study early childhood education when she received devastating news. The discomfort she was feeling in her right leg turned out to be a new type of cancer: osteosarcoma, bone cancer, in her leg. 

Instead of going to college, Allie spent the next year fighting hard, beginning immediately with six intensive rounds of high dose chemotherapy.  Surgery was then done to remove the cancerous bone in her leg reconstructing it with a donor bone and skin graft.  Then there were another 18 rounds of high dose chemo finally completed in June 2012. Her recovery during this time was grueling, She had a full leg cast for three months then had to regain her strength through  physical therapy and start learning to walk on the salvaged limb during the in-patient chemos.

She had one goal keeping her going during this year; her first year at Wheelock College in September 2013, Allie worked tirelessly to build up her strength and stability to start school with just crutches. And cancer free. And she did just that!  

Allie’s incredible grace, poise and strength did not go unnoticed by all those around her. Shortly after starting college, Allie’s care team nominated her for the Cam Neely Award for Courage. She was honored at the 2014 Working Wonders event and presented with the award from Cam Neely. 


A family at Floating Hospital for Children.

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