Story of Healing

Allie LeBlanc

Assumption Parish

allie-leblanc-heart

"Allie was officially in remission, and was able to ring the “No Mo Chemo” bell to celebrate this amazing milestone in her care."

What began as a fever and a headache led to five grueling months of high school sophomore Allie LeBlanc battling a rare disease called Ophelia syndrome.
Allie, an active softball player and cheerleader from Labadieville, LA in Assumption Parish, became unresponsive after ten days fighting what was thought to be a virus. She was immediately transported to Children’s Hospital New Orleans where she received treatment for meningitis. A couple weeks later, however, Allie stopped responding to treatment and she began to decline rapidly.
That’s when Allie’s care team found a mass in her chest. After additional tests, Allie was diagnosed with Ophelia syndrome, a rare neurological syndrome characterized by Hodgkin Lymphoma and limbic encephalitis.
Even though this diagnosis was scary and so rare, Allie’s family had total faith in the team at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
“We never doubted being at Children’s Hospital,” shared Allie’s mother, Jessica. “We had faith that Allie’s doctors and nurses knew what they were doing, and we were constantly reassured that each decision was in Allie’s best interest.”
Allie was treated by both Dr. Daniella Miller, a neurologist, and Dr. Lolie Yu, an oncologist, throughout her time at Children’s. After spending 12 days in the ICU on a ventilator and a total of five weeks in the hospital, Allie began to show minor signs of improvement and was able to go home but continued receiving chemotherapy treatments, of which she received five cycles.
“Dr. Yu was unbelievably amazing,” gushed Jessica. “And Dr. Miller just went above and beyond. They really made us feel comfortable and they treated us like family.”
For her sweet 16th birthday, Allie had a “Wiggin’ Out” party where everyone wore wigs to look like Allie, who didn’t have hair at the time due to her chemo treatments. Instead of gifts, Allie asked her family and friends to help her raise money for Children’s Hospital. Through their generosity, Allie was able to donate $1,000 to the hospital.
On September 27, 2018, Allie was officially in remission, and was able to ring the “No Mo Chemo” bell to celebrate this amazing milestone in her care. Later, Allie worked with the Children’s Hospital team to design a t-shirt for patients to wear when they ring the bell so they could have an additional memento from this exciting and hopeful moment in their lives.
“When Allie visits Children’s Hospital for follow up appointments each year, she lights up,” recalled Jessica. “That reassures us that we are in the right place. Allie feels at home there.”
What especially struck Allie’s parents, Jessica and Robbie, is how Allie’s care team not only cared for Allie, but for her little sister Anna, too.
“It’s scary for a younger sibling to experience her sister going through such a journey, but the staff at Children’s were so great to her and made her feel comfortable. That was just amazing.”
Allie was able to return to high school and cheerleading.  She graduated in May 2021, ranked 13th in her class. Even though Allie is still on seizure medication as a side effect of battling encephalitis, Allie is healthy and is now celebrating year three of remission. Allie currently attends Nicholls State University where she’s studying to become a pediatric oncologist to help other children like her. Click here to learn more about Children’s Hospital’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.