Fund Childhood Cancer Research in Honor of Rally Kid Alexis
Fund Childhood Cancer Research in Honor of Rally Kid Alexis
Alexis’ Cancer Journey
Picture this: It’s the summer of 2016, I was a typical 12 year old girl celebrating my basketball team winning our 2nd county championship! I was on top of world. By the end of that summer though, just a few short months later, my whole world would change. I was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer in my right hip. I went through very aggressive treatments and was hospitalized for the majority of 9 months. First came the biospy’s, then came chemo. Chemo brought the thing I was dreading the most – my hair started falling out. I remember being in the bath tub and my mom helping me wash my hair. It all singed up as if I put my finger in a light socket. We couldn’t even get a brush through the mess! We went to the salon to have a friend help us get it fixed, but I had no choice but to cut most of it off. I kept just the few strings until I was ready to shave and wear it bald and beautiful. Yes, this was hard but I was strong and didn’t let my hair define who I really was inside. There were many times when I’ve heard people say, “you are so brave”. The hospital gave me Beads of Courage to make necklaces. The beads were collected for every poke, treatment, surgery, blood draw and so much more. I want to help you understand how many times a kid like me may have to go through something like this. I personally had 8 different surgeries including a hip replacement, roughly 140 treatments and poked over 330 times. To be honest, I lost count. During treatments, I had a major reaction to the chemo they were giving me and started having seizures. This was a treatment that was supposed to help me, instead it hurt me. One time, I remember waking up with tubes all over my body and even tubes connected to my head. I was so scared. When I woke up I couldn’t remember what happened and just starting crying. Due to the seizures, I then started having issues with my eye sight and hearing. My reaction was so bad that I had to stop chemo all together. I remember thinking to myself how can the treatment feel worse than the cancer? What many people fail to realize when children are fighting cancer or going through treatments is that their bodies become fragile. My immune system would get so low and my body was so weak, that I would have to stay home and was not allowed to go around others in fear of catching an infection or even something as simple as the common cold. When my immune system was low, I caught a fever and was admitted to the hospital. This fever gave me the worst chills that I have ever had. I remember the nurses gave me 5 warm blankets and covered me up and I even tried a warm bath. But nothing worked! My mom got in my hospital bed with me and held me until I fell asleep and the chills were gone. Cancer has many ups and downs, but while in the hospital I got to have many moments of hope. I met Rascal Flatts when they came to my room. I participated in The Children’s Cup and was so excited when a random little boy showed up with balloons to my room. He was another patient going through the same thing I was.
I had a great support system who did a lot to keep my spirits up and keep my mind off the disease. Halloween, Birthday’s and Holiday’s, we always tried to make the most of them. However, I was never more excited when my Dr. told me that I got to go home for Christmas. Many may not understand, but to someone who is in the hospital more than home, it truly meant a lot. I got to spend Christmas at home with my Dad, my mom and 2 brothers. During my journey of fighting cancer, support not only came from family and friends. It came from people I never even met. I have received blankets, cups and pictures to help with my healing process. Something in particular that I will cherish forever, are cards that I keep in a “special box” in my room. I have received these cards from across the world and I still read them when I have rough days. How do I even begin to tell you about my first Rally Foundation experience? Rally is a group that has truly lifted my spirits. The Rally foundation involves the children and the parents in so many activities to help bring peace and comfort and just have fun. When I modeled in Rally on the Runway in 2017, they had a Cavapoo puppy that they were auctioning off to raise money for research. I volunteered to help babysit the puppy during different events. When it came time for the auction, I remember there were 2 Titans players bidding back and forth until Taylor Lewan stood up and said, “I am purchasing this puppy for this sweet girl”. The bid was closed and Rally was mine! That was one of the happiest moments of my life. The puppies name is “Rally” and Rally is my best friend. He follows me around the house. When I don’t feel good, he knows it and he gets sick too. When I’m in my room with my door closed, he lays outside my door waiting for me. Rally has turned into such a loyal friend and comfort to me in my cancer journey. So thank you Taylor for giving me my best friend! My last treatment was April 2017 and I was in remission for 18 months. I started to hope again and really believe that things might get back to normal. But in August 2019, when I went for my normal 3 month scans, I found out that the cancer had returned and was now in my lungs. I was lost! Here I am again with my world crashing down. 14 years old living my teenage years, and BAM, NOT AGAIN! This time losing my hair was much harder. I didn’t want to go out in public with no hair. I didn’t want to face the kids at school again. The only people I would allow to see me, was my family. My parents and I immediately met with the doctors to come up with the next plans for treatments. I had a biopsy and another surgery for port placement. My treatments this time weren’t as aggressive. Which made me hope maybe I wouldn’t lose my hair. But, no such luck. Fighting cancer has taught me to keep what’s close and matters most at heart. I’m now 19 still fighting Ewing Sarcoma in my lungs, the same battle that i’ve been fighting since since i was 12. I am determined to win my battle even if it takes time. I’m currently doing chemo every two weeks and I just finished radiation. It hasn’t been easy, but with my family and God by my side I know I can do this! One thing is, I have lost many friends while going through this fight mainly because other kids don’t know how to deal with cancer or what it really is. Some thought I was contagious, and they were afraid of catching something. Others just didn’t know what to say. Besides my family, there is one person who has stood by me during this journey. My Best Friend Emma! Emma was with me during my 1st and 2nd diagnosis. She was there for the seizures, the surgeries and the endless needle pokes. When I was in pain, she felt pain. Emma has been there to cry with me, laugh with me and just plain be crazy teenagers with me. We have spent many weekends together when I was able to, doing everything we could to keep my mind off cancer. Cancer does not define me. It’s a part of my story but I refuse to let it be the whole part of Alexis. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend. I am a basketball player. I love to sing. I love the beach. And I love to ride horses. I try to do these things anytime I can. They help me cope and make me feel like myself again, if only for a little while. During my hard journey with cancer, my biggest motivation was to always stay strong and to have faith. I keep telling myself you can’t give up. I have so much to live for. I knew I just had to keep fighting! There are so many other kids out there like me, fighting the same battle. Did you know that 47 kids are diagnosed with cancer every single school day? The average age of a kid dies from cancer is 8 years old. The treatments that they get and the treatments that I went through are the same for adults. They almost killed me. We have got to have better options.
I’ve personally been told that I am a big inspiration because of how much faith I have. I always try to remind myself of a favorite bible verse. “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I know part of his plan was for me to be here to share my story with all of you. I hope I have inspired you to join this fight with us. No matter how hard life is, I have to believe that one day we will find better treatments and ultimately a cure.