METHUEN — Someone asked Christen Hawkes how she kept a sense of normalcy as her daughter Allison battled cancer for the fourth time.
“I said she does it,” Hawkes said. “She knows where she wants to be and she goes there.”
Allison Hawkes, 19, is recovering from a fourth bout with cancer, and the first bone cancer. It was detected just after she graduated from high school, delaying her start to college by a year.
Despite several surgeries, a slow rehabilitation and difficulty getting around, she started her freshman year at Wheelock College last September.
Her determination through her treatments and surgeries, for osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, and through her three other victories over neuroblastoma, caught the eye of her nurses and doctors at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, which will present Allison Hawkes with its annual Cam Neeley Award for Courage in March.
During her senior year at Methuen High School, in the 2011-12 school year, Allison Hawkes co-chaired the local annual Relay for Life event, went to the senior prom and enrolled in early childhood education at Wheelock College in Boston.
But over the summer of 2012, after graduation, Christen noticed a large bump on Allison’s right leg near the knee. Tests detected that it was a new kind of cancer than the neuroblastoma she had beaten three times since she was a toddler.
It meant another year of chemotherapy. It meant a decision about whether to keep her leg below the knee. It meant a year of uncertainty as she faced a new type of cancer. And it meant her life was on hold one more time. Her friends went off to college while she returned to Floating Hospital for Children.
“It took a huge toll on me emotionally and physically, going back to the hospital and not being able to have my life,” she said. “That was the worst part.”