This time last year, Courtney and Zack Allgood had little need for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Today, the couple’s 3-year-old daughter Brecklynn spends much of her time at the hospital that’s helping to save her life.
Brecklynn Allgood was diagnosed with pleuropulmonary blastoma, a rare childhood cancer, in November. Doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta removed two tumors from the girl’s brain, radiating the area and beginning an aggressive chemotherapy treatment.
This month, Brecklynn and her family will be featured in the WSB Care-a-thon at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Her parents will be interviewed on the 37-hour radiothon between 5 a.m. July 11 and 6 p.m. July 12 on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB.
“She’s doing really well,” Courtney Allgood said of her daughter. “Though I guess it depends on how you look at that. Overall, she’s super tough, but we’ve still got a good road ahead of us.”
Brecklynn finished her ninth round of chemotherapy last week and has five more to go, according to her mother.
The sites of Brecklynn’s brain tumors were radiated, but Allgood said doctors haven’t decided yet if they will radiate the other tumor sites when the chemo is finished. She also has tumors in her arm, her spine and one in her leg.
“It’s very hard for them to come up with a game plan for her, because there were very little cases ever like hers,” Allgood said. “Most cancers have a typical protocol, but she doesn’t really have that.”
Allgood said her daughter’s doctors are always honest with the family, admitting when they aren’t sure what they’ll do next.
“They’ll just say, ‘We haven’t really decided,’” she said. “So we just wait for them to tell us.”
Allgood said the radiothon will be an opportunity to share how Children’s Hospital of Atlanta has cared for their daughter, and to ask for donations to the 501(c)(3) hospital.
She said the hospital provides care that goes beyond healing her daughter’s cancer.
“They have something called child life specialists who work there and their entire job is just to be there for the kids,” Allgood said. “They’re amazing. Soon as we get there each time, they find Brecklynn and ask her what she wants to play with, what she wants to do.”
These specialists will do anything from bringing Brecklynn an iPad to bringing her paper and paints.
Allgood said one specialist brought Brecklynn paint, Q-tips and a “big, huge thing of paper,” then spread it all out on the floor.
“She took the straws and put paint on the end of the Q-tips, then let Brecklynn blow the Q-tip out the end of the straw onto the paper,” Allgood said. “There was paint everywhere.”
She said it’s “little things like that” that make all the difference for a child going through treatment, and the hospital relies on donations to provide child life specialists to clients.
“We’re going to be talking a lot about those important things and how, without people donating, they wouldn’t be there,” she said.
Allgood said her family is still thankful to the community that rallied around them in the last seven months. People are still reaching out, still praying and still donating, she said.
Her parents, Greg and Lynn Syfan, have a family foundation that will match all donations made during the radiothon up to $50,000, she said.
“Without donations, without people caring enough to give, we wouldn’t be there,” Allgood said.
Last year, the Care-a-Thon raised more than $1.5 million for the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Listeners can hear it on News 95.5-FM and 750-AM WSB or online at www.wsbradio.com. To donate, visit www.choa.org/careathon.
Allgood said she encourages listeners to consider donating, not only for her daughter, but for all the children who are currently being treated by the center and who may one day be treated there.
“You never know when it’s going to be your child or grandchild, your niece or nephew,” she said. “We never in a million years would have thought we’d be spending a good portion of our time at the hospital. Now that we are, we couldn’t be more thankful or more blessed to have CHOA. There are tons of people all over this country that don’t have near as wonderful a hospital.”