CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - This one is heartbreaking. Please take a moment.
“It’s a complete whirlwind all over again,” Ally Davis’s dad, Preston, just said over the phone. “Her cancer is back and it’s a complete whirlwind.”
14-year-old Ally Davis is longtime one of our #MollysKids. This new picture of her is stunning. We first met three years ago. She was young with braces, bald from her chemo, smiling through everything.
Since the day Ally was first diagnosed with cancer in 2016, she has been rallying every other child she ever came across to make sure they knew they weren’t alone.
She started her own Foundation, has volunteered at tons of charity events and this summer it was Ally – ALLY – who reached out to ask if she could surprise a 3-year-old with a brain tumor with a visit from Minnie Mouse. Ally coordinated the whole meeting here at WBTV News.
That’s just who Ally is: A giving soul.
That’s why it’s such a gut kick to hear she relapsed.
“She has gone through all emotions in the past two days,” dad Preston said. “From sad, to upset, to reclusive, to angry, and now to determined. She is determined. She is determined to win again.”
How did they find the cancer? Ally had a cough three weeks ago. Typical cough. Doctor said it was a basic infection and gave her antibiotics. They didn't work. This past Monday her parents took her back in for blood work and x-rays, still thinking "run-of-the-mill cold."
On Tuesday, Levine Children's Hospital said they'd found a mass in her chest, next to her heart. The mass was the size of an orange slice. A PET scan and CT scan followed, confirming it -- and multiple lymph nodes -- were cancerous. She'd relapsed into her previous Stage III Hodkins Lymphoma.
On Wednesday, she had surgery to get a port and have a biopsy. The next step is to figure out a treatment plan.
This is where her father says it gets interesting.
“She might get accepted to a clinical trial of a special gene therapy,” Preston said. “If she does, she’ll get two forms of a chemo. One is a super immune booster. The other attacks specific genes in the cancer. If everything is dead after four cycles of those chemo's, she’ll have a stem cell transplant to reboot everything inside. We’re thinking this could be a really good path.”
“The flip side to that if she’s not eligible for the study, then she’ll get standard treatment. That’ll be similar to what she had before. The fear here is that no one knows if her cancer cells have built immunity to this kind of treatment.”
What does Ally want?
"I just want to beat it again and keep going," she says. "Bring it on."
This fits with Ally, who never really stops. She worked hard to catch up in school after missing so much with the first cancer battle, and was recently accepted to the Early College High School in Cabarrus County. That helped her get nominated for the “Student of the Year campaign” in Charlotte, as part of the North Carolina Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Here's what's nuts:
If she’s able to take part in that special gene therapy treatment, the two drugs she’ll take are funded primarily through LLS.
Which means, Ally has been raising money for a group that was funding a treatment, that she'd end up using.
Ally has already done tons of work already for her campaign, including creating business plans for talking with companies about sponsorship. She has a few fundraising experiences planned, including a Winter Wonderland Dance next Saturday, Feb. 16, at Cirq-U. - Circus University in Concord, with appearances from Disney princesses.
“She has made it clear to us she is not withdrawing from the Student of the Year campaign,” Preston said. “Believe her. If I know my daughter, when she says something, you should believe her."
Ally, we love you.
Preston, please let us know Friday about the trial.
**Editor’s note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there, which is why it’s written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all #MollysKids here.