VIRGINIA

McLean family handles adopted daughter's cancer diagnosis

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What looks like a typical day off from school is anything but for the Allen family.

"We haven't really had much chance to have normal days, because she's been in the hospital half of the time we've been here," mom Helen Allen says.

Helen's daughter, 9-year-old Alesia, has lymphoma.

The diagnosis came last winter, as Larry and Helen Allen were in the process of adopting Alesia and her 8-year-old brother, Steven, from Russia.

"It was very traumatic. It was like someone had punched both of us in the gut," Larry says.

But, the Allens continued with the adoption and worked to speed up the process to give Alesia the best possible care.

Larry adds," This is our reality, and it's never something we second guessed for even a second."

The family is also faced with additional challenges thanks to a language barrier. Alesia and Steven speak little English. Both have only been in the U.S. for seven weeks, with Alesia spending almost half of it in the hospital.

"That's very draining. It's not Alesia's favorite thing, certainly, but also it means the normal things we would do as a family don't get done either," Larry explains.

Despite exhausting medical visits and a language barrier, the Allens say they keep looking forward.

"We're looking forward to having a traumatic teenager. We want to have the normalcy, even if that can be challenging in its own form," Larry says.

The Allens are hoping Alesia will be finished with her treatments in about a month, and in the fall, she'll start school as a 4th grader. It will be her first time in an American school.

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