The calendar says Thanksgiving is still more than a week away, but for the Allgier family, 2008 has already brought many reasons to be grateful and count their blessings.
Press readers may remember the story about Teresa Allgier, of Elmore, who gave birth to twins in October 2007 after having been diagnosed with breast cancer. The surprise news of her pregnancy came in February as she was in the operating room being prepped for a mastectomy.
Though the surgery was postponed, it was rescheduled for mid-May. She then underwent a course of chemotherapy that would treat the cancer while not harming the babies.
On Oct. 19, Brailynn and Bradley were delivered by Caesarian section, weighing in at 4 pounds 11 ounces and 5 pounds 15 ounces, respectively. Just two days old, Bradley was diagnosed with a ruptured bowel that required emergency surgery and a colostomy. His prognosis was not good at the time, Teresa said.
Meanwhile, the family was experiencing financial challenges. In late 2006, Teresa’s husband had been laid off from his job at a local heating and air conditioning company and before she got sick, she was working a full-time and a part-time job as a nurse’s aide to help their family, which included four children.
Even though the family was eligible for Medicaid insurance assistance, Teresa’s and the twins’ medical expenses and the family’s household bills began to stack up.
When a fund-raiser was held to benefit the Allgiers, Teresa attended for a short time, concerned about leaving little Bradley, who was just days old, at the hospital too long.
“While we were there, a couple came up to us and said they had 16-year-old twin daughters,” Teresa recalled. “They said they came to the fund-raiser to buy a spaghetti dinner, and then they wanted to give us ‘a little something’ before they left.”
As the couple was leaving, the man told Teresa he had a dream that he had played the lottery and won $100. The next day, he told his wife about the dream, Teresa said. “He told her he was going to play the lottery and if he won he was going to give the money to us.
The man told Teresa he didn’t win $100 - he won $5,200 and handed Teresa and her husband the ticket. The mystery couple left before divulging their identity.
Bradley and Brailynn’s health continued to improve and eventually they went home from the hospital. The family settled in, unprepared for the outpouring of support from their family, friends, local church groups and even strangers.
A Toledo-based cleaning company came and cleaned the Allgier family’s house at no charge. Others made donations and offered to “adopt” the family for Christmas.
Subsequently, Teresa underwent a hysterectomy. And although she continues to take medication to stave off any recurrence of cancer, she says she is doing well and getting her energy back – as much as someone keeping up with 1-year-old twins, she said, just as the pair pulled over the recycling bin.
The twins’ milestone birthday was celebrated by about 50 family members and friends at a party Oct. 19 at the Jerusalem Township Hall.
Young Bradley, whose colostomy was reversed earlier this year, is healthy but faces dietary restrictions. “He is just a little behind developmentally, but they’re both really within normal ranges,” Teresa said of the twins.
“When I stop and think about the whole situation, I think, ‘Oh my God, we went through that?” she said. “We dealt with a lot – there were bad days, but we had many blessings.
“Before I got sick, I was a bit cynical – kind of feeling that nobody cares about anyone else in our dog-eat-dog world,” she said.
“The kindness and support from our families, our friends and from complete strangers was so touching when times were so tough,” she said. “That man who gave us the money and everyone who gave at the fund-raiser – they’ll never know how much they helped us.”
“We were in danger of losing our house,” she said.
It is her hope to be able to give back to the community, to those who may be in need once every thing settles down for her.
“I’d really like to find a way to have a big celebration and to also raise funds for individuals in need or for local charitable causes.
“For us, every act of kindness, every dinner someone brought, every donation was a Godsend,” she said.