A 15 year old athlete. An outgoing, charismatic personality. A rare cancer. No cure. Another St. Jude patient. Sounding familiar? Sounds like Trey, but it isn’t. It’s a sweet, beautiful girl, Allie Allen. A precious teen with hopes and dreams suffering with a form of an aggressive brain cancer that has at this time caused the doctors to recommend halting all treatment. I remember those words. “The treatment isn’t working.”
How do you move forward? I’ve talked to Debbi Allen, Allie’s mom, on occasion over the last two months about living out each day. If anything, she is grabbing everything for Allie and making the most of each day for her. Debbi sparked my memory after we had a conversation at a recent Grizzlies game. I remembered how excited Trey was when he met the team, went in the locker room, and to this day we still have Rudy Gay’s shoes sitting in our office. It’s those moments that the Allen family live for each day. They put the smile you see on Allie’s face. In turn, that makes for one happy mama.
But what you see are the smiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, news and even in person. What you don’t see is Allie’s anxiety, exhaustion, nausea, and pain. Most of the time, you hardly see that on most of the public St. Jude patients. There were days that we knew an event would be coming up and Trey would dread the publicity for the shear fact that it drew attention to his cancer. If I had a dime for each time he said, “All I want is to be normal,” I would be rich, and so would the Allen family. That is what Allie wants most, to be a normal teen. I bet you would hear that from all St. Jude patients. I know Collin doesn’t particularly like the fact that he is one of Danny’s kids either.
The Allen family received the “phone call” or the “talk” from the doctors suggesting no more treatment. As you are sitting in this small conference room and the doctors you have trusted each day for each step begin to give you this information, the walls slowly close in. For me, it was a fight or flight situation and all I could do was ask more questions, “What about this? What about that?” The answers I received, “It will not work this time.” Debbi and Eric have been in the same situation. I’m not sure if Allie was in the room at the time, Trey was not. I was alone, holding it together, as I have been perceived the strong, stoic mother.
It’s called FAITH. It’s called HOPE. It’s called GOALS. You just don’t give up as you walk through your nightmare. I remember one young person asking why I had goals for Trey when I knew he was dying. I’m sure Debbi will agree. It’s a part of hope and faith as you fight a battle that Allie and Trey both said cancer WILL NOT and DID NOT win. I was listening to someone on television this last week and she was talking about her faith in God (okay, I’ll admit it, it was Kristin Chenoweth and she was selling her jewelry on HSN). But something she said struck me. She began to talk about how people have faith in many things with God first, such as family, friends, and that is one thing that has helped her on her journey. Because of this, she designed a ring in the shape of an anchor. My mind went immediately to Hebrews! “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19 and 20.
As Christ is the anchor for Allie’s soul first and foremost, Allie has an anchor in St. Jude, her friends, her family, and yes, the public. This isn’t a path she chose for herself, nor did Trey. But these are things that are constant in her life that she can hold on to. On those days that maybe Debbi OR Allie can put their feet on the floor, there is hope and faith that they have in an anchor to keep them grounded. It might be an appearance, a concert, a ballgame, or Allie’s ability to show up at Houston High (oh, what a dream!). That’s what they fight for.
I think the most angry I have been was when a local television station edited an interview to make it sound like St. Jude was not covering Trey’s care. St. Jude is the most wonderful institution in the United States to care for OUR children at no cost. NO COST! There would be NO WAY we could afford to have Collin remain a patient there. BUT, St. Jude did not pay our house note. That was the point of the PrayForTrey account and the point of the GoFundMe for the Allen family. I totally understand Debbi’s feeling of guilt. It’s not pride or embarrassment, it is just an overwhelming feeling of not believing you’re in the situation you are in and that total strangers are helping you. There is no way to return what people did for us and I stress to Debbi, do not worry about repaying the GOOD of others. I have told her, take these as the blessings they are meant to be. I did not get paid when I took family medical leave for the months I was off before and after Trey’s death. I needed to be with my child. Debbi and Eric need to be with their child. Debbi has been down her OWN road since she just finished treatment for breast cancer.
What Debbi and I have talked about most is how we have so much in common regarding wanting to scream at the madness (me in grief), being sad, depressed, and just not knowing what to do next. I told her, satan will rob your joy at every corner! (John 10:10) What most don’t realize is we had things in common before Allie got sick. Their son, Zach, played football against Trey, and I love getting those big hugs every time I see him. Collierville is such a close knit community. More than that, God has a way of bringing people together. We have laughed together, we have prayed together, I have texted, tweeted, etc. many times for this sweet family.
One thing we know, tomorrow might not bring answers OR answers we are wanting to hear. But we do know that we serve a mighty God and I told Debbi, on behalf of the family, I would ask for you to pray for them. Sometimes, there is nothing more that you can do other than donate a few dollars to GoFundMe, pray that it be multiplied, and pray for peaceful days for the Allen family.
We love you Allen family. We are praying for you and we know God hears our prayers, catches each tear, and has a purpose for all things! We don’t always understand those things, but that is when we call on our faith. Grab it! Hold tight! Allie, keep reaching for the stars and stay in the word of God!
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Rom. 8:28
God has a plan.
Allie has a purpose.