On Aug. 30, Ally wrote: “Hi everyone, this is Ally. I want to thank everyone for praying for me and thinking about me. I want to come home NOW. I really hate it here, and I miss all my friends. I get really sad, and I hate that this happened to me. … I’m trying to stay positive and work really hard to come home, but I get so tired and frustrated. I wish someone would just come kidnap me and get me the heck outta here.
“I don’t know why this happened to me, and right now it’s hard for me to be thankful, but I know this happened for a reason, and I know I will try to help others someday.”
Ally went on to write that her friends have been keeping her informed about all the fundraisers and events that community members and local business have held to help pay her medical bills, and she expressed her gratitude to everyone who has helped out. While she knows dozens have posted get-well messages on the guest book at CaringBridge.org, she hasn’t been able to prepare herself to read them just yet.
“One day I will read everything in here, but for now, it kinda hurts to read all this,” Ally wrote. “I really hope you all will keep praying for me because things just seem so hard right now, and it feels like it’s gonna be forever to get home. I love everyone and thank you!”
Ally also expressed the desire to get back to school, where she’ll be a freshman at Freedom High School. She received her first homework packet this week to help her begin to catch up on what she’s missed since being admitted to UCSF in July.
Vickee said on Tuesday that it would probably be another two weeks before Ally is discharged from the hospital, and that the family would remain in San Francisco to up to six weeks while Ally continues out-patient treatment.
Since her transplant, Ally has been able to get up and walk around to regain her strength, but she’s had trouble keeping food down. Vickee wrote that Ally’s determination to get out of the hospital seems to be fueling her in place of actual nourishment.
“She told me today she will continue to fight even though her body tells her to give up,” Vickee wrote Tuesday night. “Through all her complaining, she realizes there’s always going to be someone who has it worse than she does. And she told me again today that she will keep looking for the good that will come out of this.
“And in her darkest moments, when she’s crying, worrying, suffering, and telling us ‘no, I just can’t do this anymore,’ she composes herself and raises the ‘I love you’ sign with her fingers.”
Ally was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in July. The disease, which impacts blood flow from the heart to the lungs, has no cure. The only recourse was to transplant a donor’s lungs, which she received on Aug. 18.
Ally learned about the 12-year-old donor this week and has expressed interest in meeting the family of the girl whose passing gave her a second chance at life.
“She wants to meet the little girl’s family,” Vickee wrote. “I hope so much they are receptive to the idea. I pray for that family every day, and I hope you all do as well. Not a day goes by that Jeff (Ally’s father) and I don’t recognize that could have been us donating to another family. Jeff and I are becoming advocates for more people to become donors, and I hope all of you do too. Our daughter’s life was saved by the generosity in someone’s grief.”
While Ally has the support of family and friends, as well as the community at large, she recently had the opportunity to meet Carrie Shellhammer of Woodland, Calif., who received a double lung transplant at UCSF six years ago. Shellhammer has met with Ally several times, and Vickee said these meetings have meant so much to her daughter’s progress. Shellhammer has been able to provide Ally with insight based on her personal experiences that have given Ally hope.
“I can tell Ally things will get better, and she looks at me like I don’t understand,” Vickee wrote. “And she’s right. I don’t know what she’s going through. But Carrie does. I’m so appreciative of her for being here.”
To follow Ally’s progress, visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/allyjenkins.