My Story

Alena will always be loved by her parents and sister, and everyone that spent time with her was touched in a special way. Alena was beautiful, loving, kind, empathetic, intelligent, and talented.

Alena passed away on Christmas Day 2011, from a rare childhood cancer. She now has peace in her Heavenly home.

Alena's first symptoms
Alena was taken to the Doctor on Friday, March 5th because Mom noticed her normally flat tummy was increasing in size. After some testing it was determined she had fluid in her abdomen, called Ascites. Initial testing of that fluid revealed abnormal cells which worried mom & dad and called for additional testing. It was also found that a membrane in the abdominal cavity called an Omentum was very enlarged. When she also developed an increasing fever, she was admitted to Emanuel Children's Hospital on Wednesday, March 10th. 

Celebrating her 10th birthday in the Children's Hospital
Alena spent a total of 10 days at Emanuel Hospital as the doctors put her through many tests and procedures to determine the cause of this unusual abdominal fluid buildup. During her stay at Emanuel awaiting a diagnosis, she celebrated her 10th birthday in her hospital bed on Thursday, March 11.

The diagnosis that made our lives stand still
On Friday March 12, about 2 to 3 liters of fluid was drained from her abdomen, and a biopsy on her omental tissue was taken to Pathology for testing. Alena was diagnosed with Group 4, Stage IV Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma which places her in the high-risk category. This is an aggressive soft-tissue cancer that affects children under 15 years old, and rare with only several hundred cases per year in the United States.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Alena's future
Alena deserves every chance for life, healing and recovery. Her parents pray, plan, and expect that she will overcome this disease and grow into a lovely young woman. She is not alone in her illness, and has the loving support of her family and friends. Alena qualified for the COG ARST-08P1 clinical trial, which is an aggressive and dose compressed treatment plan to fight this cancer. This will be extremely difficult on her and our family.  

Mom & Dad are often stressed to their breaking point. Seven year old Kristine can feel lost in the shuffle and neglected. This is also financially costly for our family, above and beyond our medical coverage. Dad is the sole provider for this family and has taken much FMLA time off his job to emotionally support his family and handle the many decisions. 

Family needs
We certainly have plenty of stuffed animals and candy! Our true needs are for your supportive prayers, and a miracle for our dear little Alena. We need your friendship and can use help with Kristine's childcare during Alena's treatments, and help with everyday tasks and chores.  

Thank you for your prayers and support,
Jim & Carol, Alena & Kristine


Jim and Carol Marek posted a new journal entry.

Hello dear readers. We are approaching the second anniversary of losing sweet Alena.  My last posting was early summer. I try not to post unless I have something ... Read more

kalila woodard signed Alena's Guestbook.

Jim & Carol, I hope you guys went through the holidays alright, I know your feeling of loss and it hurts but I hope you got through the year alright. I went to school ... Read more

David Strickland signed Alena's Guestbook.

To the Marek Family - thank you so much for this post.  I came across the notification as I was looking at Shannon's site.  We had met your family at the clinic and ... Read more

Ana signed Alena's Guestbook.

To the Marek family: I have been thinking about your family so much this season. We have never met, but I was very touched by your Caring Bridge site. I wish I had been ... Read more

Kathy L. signed Alena's Guestbook.

Thinking of you all at Christmas.  Hoping your hearts are filled with memories of happy times. Read more

Ines Marie from France. signed Alena's Guestbook.

Dear Jim & Carol Marek, My biggest dream is to become a scientist especially in the field of genomics, to allow physicians to envisage new treatments against cancer. ... Read more

sian holt signed Alena's Guestbook.

I always think of you all,particularly at this time of year which must be so painful and difficult.I am so pleased that Kristine is doing well....I wish for peace and ... Read more

kathy signed Alena's Guestbook.

I thing of all of you often. Jim is well-spoken of by everyone who has the pleasure of knowing him. Many of  my customers in Hubbard know Jim by name and he is often in ... Read more

Josephine Becker signed Alena's Guestbook.

Carol,Thank you for sharing an update of your family.  We have you in our thoughts and prayers and wish God's warm embrace around all of you.  The Beckers Read more

Lisa Sanders signed Alena's Guestbook.

Carol,Thank you for sharing your update.  We have been thinking of your family often in this advent season and including you in our prayers.  What a lovely tribute to ... Read more

Sarah Putney signed Alena's Guestbook.

Thankyou for the update Carol. Praying/thinking of you and your family during this time of year. God bless the 3 of you.                         ... Read more

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