Seven years ago, Alina Tanner was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive Stage II bile duct cancer. The survival rate for this form of cancer is usually no longer than 2-6 months. Since that time, she has undergone 170 chemotherapy treatments, infusions, 3 ablations, operations, proton therapy, and 2 medical trials. Many doctors consider her to be a miracle.
"Cancer is a thief which steals every aspect of your life. You lose so much including relationships with family, friends, a spouse. You lose the ability to do the simplest things like housework, shopping, and hobbies. It clouds your thoughts and takes away your dreams of doing ANYTHING in the future."
Alina's life turned upside down. She sent her then 2-year-old son to live with her sister in the Ukraine. She moved in with a neighbor who graciously cared for her like family. She refused to tell her parents because they are elderly and she didn't want to worry them. Many people have helped her over the last several years. Alina was not one to "simply accept the fact and die, vanish, surrender without a fight."
Another neighbor, Tom Ayers, introduced Alina to Angel Flight South Central. He is a retired commercial pilot now volunteering with Angel Flight South Central. Without the help of the volunteer pilots, she would not have been able to get the life-saving treatment she needed to fight this aggressive cancer. Her first pilot was David L'Roy, who has flown 175 missions for the organization.
"I am grateful to all the pilots who have put so much effort and money into helping me." During the 5 years that Alina has been traveling with Angel Flight, she has received 60 free flights from numerous volunteer pilots. In addition, the Ground Angels in Houston have assisted Alina by providing over 180 rides between the airport and MD Anderson or the hotel. "I feel so grateful for all the drivers who provide for us who are sick with chemo. I hope they all will be blessed for being so compassionate.
"Without this service I couldn't have done this for myself in the state I was in from the chemo nor could I have afforded it. AFSC pilots and staff are truly angels for doing what they do for many others like me. I want to thank MD Anderson Hospital for my treatment and for the extraordinary care I received there by the workers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I now have a life because of medical trials shrinking my tumor down by half and I am excited to tell you I feel as though I have a new life! I am extremely grateful for everything I have received. May everyone who helped me along on my journey to health be blessed."