Kindergartner To Undergo New Cancer Treatment

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Ashley Allen's short life has been marked by a number of little miracles.

What the 5-year-old terminal cancer victim needs now is a big miracle.

And she may have found it directly after visiting Lourdes, France, site of the miracle of Bernadette.

The Payson kindergartner and her parents, Frank and Tracy, were flown to Lourdes two weeks ago by an anonymous party in hopes that the city's waters thought by some to be capable of healing the sick would save Ashley from the five malignant and inoperable tumors doctors found in her brain in September.

While in France, Ashley suffered a serious seizure.

"It scared us," her mother said. "We thought maybe it was a sign that we'd better prepare, because she's going to go. But within the next few days, we realized that the seizure was a wake-up call to get home and fight. That we were sitting and doing nothing, and we needed to fight."

Soon after returning home, the Allens began phoning specialists about a cancer treatment they'd heard about called GammaKnife radiation, which, thus far, has added two years to the life of an 11-year-old cancer victim who had brain tumors nearly identical in size and location to Ashley's.

The scheduling for the procedure can take months. But one week ago, Ashley was scheduled to undergo the treatment Thursday.

According to the University of Southern California's Gamma Knife Unit Internet site, the procedure is considered "short-stay surgery." After a mild sedative is administered, a metal "stereotactic" frame is attached to the patient's head forming the base for accurately identifying the position of the tumors and positioning the patient accurately for the radiation treatment.

After taking a Magnetic Resonant Imaging scan of the patient's brain, a number of radiation fields of differing sizes and positions deliver the radiation directly, with pinpoint accuracy, to the tumors.

The doctors say the treatment will cause the tumors to calcify, Tracey Allen said.

"The doctor said it may not cure her, but he didn't say it wouldn't," she said. "And he definitely said that it will give her more time. Those were his words."

That, and the story of the 11-year-old survivor, have provided the Allens with more hope than they've had since September, when they were told that Ashley would only live another four to six months.

"In fact, I'm going to videotape the surgery," Allen said, "because when Ashley's 18, she's going to want to see it."

Monetary donations to help the Allen family can be deposited at Compass Bank, account No. 76206740.

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