Children grow rapidly during their early years, but when Allana was 2, her development seemed to regress. Her mobility suffered, and she lost the ability to name her colors. She went to see a neurologist, who was concerned enough to order an emergency MRI.
Allana’s mother, Brittany, will never forget those terrifying words: “Your child has a brain tumor.” Shockingly, the tumor was over a fourth the size of little Allana’s brain.
We need the best treatment. I don’t care how much it costs. I don’t care where I have to go. I just want her to stick around longer than December.
At a local children’s hospital, surgeons were able to remove the entire tumor, but they warned Brittany that her child only had a 10 percent chance of living through December of that year — giving her little more than six months to live. The cancer was that aggressive.
“In that moment, it was like I wasn’t going to watch her even have New Year’s, let alone her fourth birthday,” remembered Brittany. “It was very, very hard. My thought was: We need the best treatment. I don’t care how much it costs. I don’t care where I have to go. I just want her to stick around longer than December.”
Brittany’s search for the best care led her and Allana to St. Jude, because we have the world’s best survival rates for the most aggressive childhood cancers.
“Everything I kept learning about St. Jude just made me know that we were in the right place,” said Brittany. “We were in the place that was going to help Allana, but also not put us into debt for the rest of our lives. It was a big relief to learn all of the stuff St. Jude would help us out with.”
At St. Jude, the best care comes at no cost to families. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. After their arrival, doctors treated Allana with intravenous chemotherapy, followed by oral chemotherapy administered at home.
Now, Allana is cancer-free and returns to St. Jude for regular checkups. She loves to visit the hospital’s fish tanks and calls the fish “tricky little Nemos” as they dart in and out of their hiding places.
“Here, people welcome you with open arms,” said Brittany. “You walk in, and you’re just confronted with kindness. And you’re confronted with compassion.”