Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cool Story About a Girl in Our Youth Ministry

Allison is a young girl who has been attending axis since 7th grade and is also on our student leadership team. The story below from a local paper will tell you a lot about who she is as a person. I'm proud of you, Allison!

MILLERSBURG -- It's easy to root for certain people in life.
If you ever met Allison Hostetler, you'd walk away as someone who'd want to be in her corner.
I guarantee it.

A Fairfield High School junior this fall, Allison is an articulate yet simple girl with honest values and true beliefs. She uses those values and beliefs to maintain a sense of order while balancing a complex issue. Allison Hostetler has a brain tumor.

Medical specialists assure Allison that her condition is very treatable and not life-threatening, but to most vibrant 16-year-olds, finding out you have a tumor is tantamount to yelling "shark" at the beach or "bomb" on an airplane. Not to this gal, though.

She golfs, she ran for 4-H Fair queen (she was named Miss Congeniality by her peers), her family has beef and dairy entries this week at the Fair -- she refuses to halt her life in any way.
Allison's mother, Cindy, told me last week that the best way to get a moment of her time was to meet her at Timber Ridge Golf Club. She'd be there three or four times a week either playing or hitting balls on the range.

When I pulled into the course at 8 a.m. Thursday, Allison was pounding iron shots while her mother watched. Greg Hire, Timber Ridge's owner, set us up for a leisurely round of golf and conversation. In no time at all, I discovered Allison Hostetler has no trouble with either.
A terrible tee shot which strayed left got me started, while the young Falcon laced one down the fairway. The rest of the morning was a sheer treat.

Between shots, she spoke with ease about her "marble-sized" tumor.
"The doctors have said they've seen smaller ones which caused more trouble and bigger ones that aren't even noticeable," Allison said. "I was confused and a little worried, but I was confident in what they did."

What started as a recurring series of unexplainable headaches resulted in trips to Indianapolis, scans and an MRI which detected the tumor this spring. Considered benign, the options are surgery to remove the tissue or radiation to reduce or eliminate it. Chemotherapy has been ruled out. The proton radiation treatments needed are done in Boston, California and, conveniently, in Bloomington. "Because of its size, radiation would be the best choice," Allison said. Surgery is the next option, of course.

"It's nice that they can pinpoint it. It's rather deep and it's in a good place to be able to get at it," Allison said. "They have to tell you the worst options."

Mind you, she walked and talked, stopped to analyze shots while continuing a detailed description of her future. She painted an amazing picture and managed to play pretty good golf, too.

"That first night, that first week, those first appointments, I was really, really scared, nervous," Allison said. "But I didn't want to wait. I wanted to find out." Allison smiled, she joked, she laughed and she enthusiastically applauded my golf efforts with "awesome shot." And you could tell she really meant it. Her heart is that full. "I know I actually had a problem and it was a big deal," she said, "but I understand other people have major problems. I was blessed that it wasn't cancer."We rode and talked more. This young lady can talk.

Allison faces the potential of memory loss in years to come. How much loss, if any, no one knows.
Because there's no extreme sense of urgency, her family can wait until November and December to begin a rigorous series of radiation treatments -- five days a week for six weeks. In the meantime, her life is as "normal" as possible. "I am a normal person. I want to act like a normal person. I do not want people to pity me," Allison said. "I'm strong with what I'm doing." Though she doesn't throw it at people or wear it on her sleeve, she spoke openly about faith in herself, which is fueled by her faith in God. "I truly believe in so many ways, He has shown Himself to me," Allison said. "I'm not scared at all. I try not to dwell on stuff I can't change. It's in God's hands anyway."

Allison Hostetler can open your eyes with her words. She doesn't force you believe in her -- you just naturally want to follow her path. I sat in awe listening to her charming yet fearless resolve.
Plans for her academics, the girls golf team this fall, plays, musicals, track in the spring -- are all on course. And she's more than happy to reach back as family, friends and classmates reach out to help her.

Clearly, it's a story she's never been afraid to share. "I'm fine with people knowing. The more that know, the more prayer I get," Allison said. "I've touched lives in ways I didn't even realize and in return, I am getting it back."

Someone you want to cheer every day. I walked away beaten on the scorecard -- Allison's 46 to my 48 -- but it was clearly one of the most enjoyable three hours I've spent in a long, long time.
The golf didn't really matter. Allison Hostetler is a special person who requires no special attention from the world. We could all learn and draw from her poise and giving by rallying within our own hearts for inspiration.

Allison's headaches persist today, but she pushes on every day by keeping amazingly busy. She said she's "very stubborn" and has a high pain tolerance. Her spirit is captivating. "I like to make people feel better, encourage them, give that to different people that might not get it," she said. "It could be athletes or singers, actors, other kids in school. I have a joy to do that."

Bill Beck is The Elkhart Truth's sports editor. Contact him at bbeck@etruth.com.

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