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Alena’s 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

Latest Journal Update


I know there are folks that still check this site. I'm sorry that I have not posted a message in such a long time. I may do another one some time soon. But for now I would just like to say thank you that you keep checking on us, and for all of your prayers and good thoughts. Tomorrow it will be three years since we lost Alena. She is constantly held close in our thoughts and in our hearts. I also think very often about all of those who have lost loved ones. This is a hard time of year for many people.

If we think about the first Christmas, we realize how difficult things were for Mary and Joseph. I can't imagine what it would feel like to travel for many, many miles on the back of a donkey while 9 months pregnant. I am certain that was a very uncomfortable ride for Mary. Giving birth in the most rudimentary of circumstances with livestock, a dirt floor and a drafty shack built for animals. And then fleeing from Herod with a newborn. We don't know what they did for food or how they managed to find shelter in their long journey. None of that was easy. While they were rejoicing at the birth of Jesus, they were dealing with circumstances that were very challenging. Even when we know God is close and walking with us, it is still a struggle and mostly not joyous to keep living with loss or other burdensome aspects of life. Even so, we will do our best to find contentment in the blessings that we do have, and in the birth of our Savior.

Best Wishes to all of you during this season.
Carol, Jim and Kristine

21 people hearted this



Alphonse Baresh
By Uncle Alphonse Baresh
Dear Kristine, Carol and Jim,
I often have all of you in my thoughts and prayers. I visit dear Alena when I also visit my sister Ann and her husband Sergies. You have chosen a very beautiful Memorial stone that pictures her as she was, and always will be. A young vibrant beautiful Daughter.
Christina St. Hilaire
By Christina — last edited
Dear Jim, Carol and Kristine,

We still pray to and for dear Alena, and remember her and you at Christmas. We wish we could see you guys, and we do pray for you all. Thanks for the good meditation on the Holy Family and their trials. God bless you, dear Marek family. Merry Christmas. Christina, Terry and family
jan mcmanus
By jan mcmanus
So glad to see a post from you- does not seem possible that it could be 3years. Praying for peace for your family. Sending love and blessings from sc
Karen Chalmers
By Karen Chalmers
I am so thankful that you continue to write a quick note. I think about Alena often. I know this is a tough time of year and it makes it easier to know that Alena is our special angel watching over us! Merry Christmas to all of you.
Tom Catalanotto, Sending Love from North Carolina
By Tom Catalanotto, Sending Love from North Carolina
The mother of a Wilms' Tumor ^Angel^ wrote on her Facebook entry less than an hour ago about how their surviving daughter has had a rough day; so much grief and sadness.
Try to have a better Christmas and happier New Year.
Melinda Young
By Melinda
Love you guys. Thinking about you, please know we continue to pray for you. I also ask for Alena's intercession. She is a very special angel.
Melinda and family
sian holt
Wishing you peace at this very difficult time of year.Alena will always be remembered in this small corner of the UK.
Love and best wishes from Sian xx
Lori Korn
By Lori Korn
You and your family are in my thoughts during the season and always ❤️
Pamela Lewis
By Pam
I continue to remember Alena with great fondness, I loved being her nurse. I also continue to keep you in my prayers, that you may find comfort and peace and healing.