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Beauty Revived – Day Five

Brittany Thiebeau
BT Photography
Minster, OH

Meet Ally. She is beautiful, kind, smart, and exceptionally brave. In 2009, at the age of 7, Ally’s world was turned upside down.

The family had just suffered a loss and when Ally starting behaving differently her parents dismissed it as grief. Any parent would do the same under those circumstances. To help their family heal from the loss of a loved one, Ally’s parents decided to take the kids on a fun-filled vacation. Ally seemed distant and uninterested while on vacation. She sat poolside watching her brother and sister play in the water instead of joining in on the fun. Her parents knew something was wrong and scheduled a doctor’s appointment with the idea that Ally might have mono.

Reality hit when they came home from vacation. Ally’s parents had to hear the words no parent ever wants to hear from their child’s doctor: Ally had cancer. She was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). In the first month after diagnosis, Ally’s leukemia was deemed as “high risk.” Further testing showed that intense chemotherapy and cranial radiation would be necessary to combat the cancer trying to take over. Ally went through 8 doses of radiation directly into her brain and 28 long months of chemotherapy. Dayton Children’s Hospital became Ally’s home away from home. Over the course of her treatment, Ally and her family had to celebrate many holidays in the hospital including birthdays, anniversaries, and even Christmas.

The side effects of Ally’s treatment were hard to bear at times. She would suffer from fevers, mouth sores, stomach pain, and she even developed pancreatitis. Ally spent a year in constant pain. Her joints would hurt so bad that some days she would be restricted to a wheelchair. Another side effect during treatment was more of a lifestyle effect. Because of Ally’s compromised immune system, any exposure to germs could have been detrimental to her health. Ally and her family had to give up going to restaurants, shops, parties, etc. Ally’s parents relied on close friends and family to help with her younger siblings, Evan and Carly.

In September 2011, after 843 days of treatment, Ally took her last dose of chemotherapy. She celebrated with a big party!!!! Ally fought every day with courage and strength. Her fighting didn’t end after treatment. A month after Ally’s port was removed, her closest friend was diagnosed with ALL, the same diagnosis she had received in 2009. Ally went from fighting for her own life to helping her friend Caulin fight for his.

Ally and Caulin are thankfully both survivors. Together with their families, they started the foundation called “Together We Fight.” The foundation’s mission is to “better the lives of patients and their families who are facing a cancer diagnosis.” The foundation provides care packages to children being treated at Dayton Children’s Hospital with any type of childhood cancer. The care packages include a variety of items from hospital parking passes, cafeteria/hospital gift cards, and gas cards, to helpful hospital stay items, toys, games, and books. The value of each bag is approximately $150. Ally’s foundation has delivered 85 bags to date. The foundation has also raised money to provide a blanket warmer for the Hematology Clinic ($4k), a fun center/video game unit ($5k), and Christmas packages for those in the hospital over the holiday ($1K). Every year Ally’s “Army” hosts the Rally For Ally 5K with funds raised going towards her foundation.

Today Ally is a typical teenage girl who loves the outdoors, going camping, and hanging out with her friends. She still has some lingering side effects from her treatment but tries not to let them slow her down. Ally will be turning 14 and starting the 8th grade in the fall. She absolutely adores animals, especially her beloved dog Reggie. A dream of Ally’s is to live on a farm, be a chef, and work with dogs. She would love to one day return to the Bahama’s (where she first knew something was wrong before her diagnosis), and this time actually get to enjoy it! Ally also dreams of being on the show Survivor, although her mom would say she already has that title.

Ally has endured so much since that day in 2009 when what they thought was mono ended up being a life-altering diagnosis. During their darkest time, Ally and her family found light. Now their light shines brightly for others who are living through the nightmare of a childhood cancer diagnosis, and that is a truly beautiful thing. Ally Barnett is Beauty Revived.

BT Photography is owned/operated out of Minster, Ohio by Brittany Thiebeau. She specializes in children and senior portraits, as well as family photography. Brittany is a wife and mother of 3. Her family encourages, supports, and inspires her to pursue her dreams every day.

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