She likes boy band Big Time Rush, bracelets, all types of hats, and helping people—especially young children.
Eleven-year-old Allison Lysiak of Temecula has not been able to enjoy much of that lately, however. That is because she was admitted to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital a month ago, and it may be awhile before Allison comes home.
Allison, a sixth grader at Margarita Middle School, has been diagnosed by LLU doctors as having chondrosarcoma, according to her mother, Sheri Lysiak.
Chondrosarcoma is a type of cancer that invades bone, according to Mayoclinic.org, which reports that it typically develops in adults older than 40.
“It is extremely rare and even more rare in children,” Lysiak told Patch via phone Wednesday.
The problems started when Lysiak said she noticed a lump on Allison’s back that she thought was a cyst. The family pediatrician sent Allison for surgery to remove the cyst, Lysiak said, at about the same time she started experiencing pains in her ribs.
“An X-ray showed there was a mass tumor,” Lysiak said.
Shortly thereafter, Allison, who goes by Allie, lost her ability to walk. A second surgery repaired that, Lysiak said. That was followed by a third surgery, and Allie is facing yet a fourth soon.
Meanwhile, Lysiak, a stay-at-home mom, has been spending most of her time at the hospital—nearly an hour drive from Temecula.
On Oct. 9, Allison celebrated her 11th birthday in the hospital.
“It was a fun day and a hard day,” Lysiak said.
Some friends from school, along with family members, came to help celebrate, she said.
Allie has two siblings: Emily, who is 12, and Nathan, 5, who suffers from autism.
Lysiak and her husband, Dustin, have been splitting time between the hospital. Dustin has taken several days off work from his job at Optiforms in Temecula.
“It has been a real challenge for me and my husband; having to choose which one of our kids to spend the night with,” Lysiak said. “My mom has come from Arizona and is helping by staying a week at time.”
Temecula businesses Pizza Factory and Chick-fil-A have held benefits for Allie, and the Vail Elementary School community—where Allie attended kindergarten through fifth grade—has also been a lifesaver, Lysiak said.
The road ahead for Allie includes a surgery to replace her vertebrae, as doctors thought they removed all the cancer but found the cells were still microscopically attacking one of the main bones in her back, Lysiak said.
“This will be her third spine surgery in three weeks. Then it will be another three or four weeks recovery and from there we are undecided if we are going to do radiation and chemotherapy.”
Lysiak said they are seeking a second opinion on Allie’s diagnosis from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
Herbert Atienza, spokesperson for LLU Children's Hospital, confirmed Allie's stay but could not immediately elaborate on her condition due to privacy laws.
Allie is keeping a smile on her face through visits from her siblings and an extra-special treat from Big Time Rush of autographed T-shirts and posters.
“She misses everything: misses her friends, misses being home," her mother said.
A website documenting Allie’s plightful journey has been set up at Seealliesmile.weebly.com.