A Story Of True Courage

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As anyone reading this is grinding through another day and thinking how bad they have it, Alyssa Malachin has had it worse. Alyssa is a 16 year-old girl from Mineral Ridge who lived the normal life.  She was active in her school’s drama club, spending time with her friends, and while celebrating her 16th birthday with those friends at a party in her honor, she collapsed inexplicably and was taken to the hospital the next day.  It was soon discovered that Alyssa had a tumor the size of a softball lodged between her chest and heart. Alyssa is currently undergoing chemotherapy, has to stay in the hospital for groups of days at a time, has lost all of her hair, yet somehow remains optimistic while fighting the sickening disease we have labeled as cancer.  So get over the “crappy” day you might be having.

I have known Alyssa’s parents for years as we have shot pool in the same Youngstown area leagues and have met up on the town several times.  Drew and Heidi Malachin are good parents.  Heidi would bring candy bars that Alyssa had to sell for school to the pool matches and frequently brag about the good that her daughter was doing.  Drew brags too.  They have good reason. Alyssa is a special girl and is showing the heart of a champion in these trying times.

I first learned of this whole situation a couple of weeks after Drew and I were talking about a mutual friend who retired his cue stick because he had his hands full with an autistic child.  Drew and I agreed that our mutual acquaintance made the right move to help the child.  I will never forget Drew saying, “I don’t know what I would do if anything ever happened to my daughter.” Two weeks later, he had to learn rapidly exactly what he would do.

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“The situation has been unbearable, it is the hardest thing you will ever go through in your life,” said Drew.  Heidi also stressed how difficult the last couple of months have been.  ”As a parent, I wish it could be me instead of her and it breaks my heart to see her suffer.”

There are fundraisers planned as both parents have set their professional paths on the side to care for their daughter.  The big deal is the August 27th fundraiser to be held at the Icehouse in Niles.  There will be bands, a Chinese Auction and food.  There are also spaghetti dinners, and a bank fund for those wishing to donate:

Donations for Alyssa Malachin

First Place Bank Fund is under Acoount # 568699436.

So how is Alyssa? “It [chemotherapy] has me getting sicker and more tired each time.  I sleep a lot and am trying to get through it.  It depends on the day and my friends have really been there when I need them most.  A bad day means I don’t get to eat anything, I’m tired and sick all day. On a good day, I’ll go for a short walk or go to the movies.  I have not eaten junk food for over two months, it just doesn’t taste good.  Overall, it is nice to know that there are people who are supporting me and have come together for a good cause.”

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers have set July 31 as a night for Alyssa and her family to try their best to have fun.  Alyssa will throw out the first pitch at the game.  The Malachins and a few friends will be given the “Dog Pound” Suite and will also get to meet Rafe Hernandez from Days Of Our Lives.  Big shout out to Dave Smith and Jordan Taylor of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers organization for making this all possible.

What is the outlook for Alyssa moving forward?  ”I can’t wait to go to my prom and get my driver’s license.  I try not to think about it, it is like being sick with the flu for a very long time.  It’s gonna go away and if you don’t always think about it, everything will be fine.  My parents don’t cry in front of me, but I know it bothers them, I’m gonna get better.”

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I wouldn’t wish the whole ordeal on my worst enemy, and ironically it happens to friends.  Many prayers are with Alyssa and family through this very difficult time.  Be strong for her when she can’t be strong for herself.

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