Alison shares the story of her 38-year battle with cancer

Melissa Peterson photo
Alison was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1979 and she continues to fight today with her loving husband right there with her.

By Melissa Peterson

Many people around the world know how it feels to sit in a hospital room, silently praying for the doctors to tell you the diagnosis is anything but cancer. For Alison Magee, this moment in 1979 became all too real.
Doctors informed Alison she might not have long to live. Today, 38 years later, she truly has beaten the odds.
In no way during the last 38 years has her cancer gone into remission, instead, it has only grown more severe. Alison was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1979. She had a double mastectomy, and underwent a year and a half on chemo-radiation. Unfortunately, it had already spread. That time, it went into her bones.
“It was then I decided I wasn’t going to give in to it, and I didn’t,” Alison remembers.
She begins to tell her remarkable story while sitting in her Glenrock home of 40 years, while her husband Jim watches a western movie in the next room.
Even though Alison has lived in town since 1977, her journey started in Auckland, New Zealand. Alison was born and raised there and remembers the beauty it holds, and how you can travel the entire country in three days. Which is why, like others, Alison decided to travel the world.
Her journey took her to England, Scotland, and finally the United States, where in 1958 she was introduced to Jim, the man she would marry two years later.
“I would call home to New Zealand, which was 75 dollars, I would be crying, and my family would be crying. So, I eventually had to stop doing that,” Alison reminisces.
It never occurred to Alison she would not move back to New Zealand, but instead, make her new home in Wyoming. Over the years she has returned numerous times with her four children, desiring for them to know who they are.
Even though Alison has undergone radiation every three weeks for the last 30 years, which is where she jokes about not needing a night light, but instead glows in the dark. Looking back she can remember how it felt to be diagnosed with cancer.
“I was petrified, my first thought was ‘I have cancer, and I’m going to die,’” Alison said.
She made a decision to not let cancer overtake her.
“I decided I didn’t have time for it and wasn’t going to let it take over my life.”
It took about six months for Alison to adjust to having cancer.
“It’s all up here,” Alison says, pointing to her head. “You can be sitting in a room full of people, and they’re all saying how good you are doing. But on the inside, you’re not. You’re consumed by it.”
Today though, the doctors are unable to reason how Alison has fought for this long. In no way has cancer gone into remission, and the pain remained. All of Alison’s bones have undergone radiation, and as a result, have destroyed the nerves in her legs, reducing her ability to walk.
The hardest days for Alison come when she can’t do everything. Before being diagnosed she was a remarkable athlete, riding horses and playing any sport from hockey to tennis.
Even after moving to Glenrock, she stayed busy with her four young children and taught pre-school in Glenrock for 20 years, where she found, even more children to love.
Her husband Jim remembers his wife never complaining about going to work, even when the chemo took its toll. Amidst the pain, Alison never lost her love for children and sees it as one of the most rewarding times of her life. “I was sick with chemo, but when those kids grab you by the leg and tell you they love you, it makes everything alright,” Alison said.

To her surprise, Alison’s daughter Catherine has nominated her for the 2017 Mother of the Year Award. Anyone can nominate their mother for showing the traits of a remarkable woman.
Alison had no idea she was being nominated. Her daughter Catherine informed her by starting off with, “mom, you’re not going to like this.”
“Why would I win anything? The only thing I’ve ever done is survive cancer, and I had help,” Alison said.
The mother proudly tells of how close their family is and how the battle with cancer has shown them what truly matters.
“Others often think money is the most important, but to us, it’s people,” Alison said.
In no way has the toll been easy on her family. She recalls the time when radiation started taking effect. And how her youngest son Jimmy, who was 7 years old at the time, responded to it. He started throwing up multiple times a day, even though he didn’t know why he knew something was wrong with his mom. Alison tried taking him to the doctor, where they said nothing was physically wrong and they should try counseling. It was there Jimmy told the counselor, “if I’m sick, I can stay home and help my mom.”
Alison still struggles with being less active, though she still enjoys going to events involving any of her 10 grandchildren, who she refers to as their salvation.
All these years Alison knows she would not have made it without her best friend and husband, Jim. When she was first diagnosed the doctors said to be prepared because most husbands can’t handle this sort of thing. Even though he was scared to death, Jim has continued to be a supportive and great life partner, Alison said
The option to lay down and quit has always been there. Instead, Alison chose to never put anything off.
“Anything I’ve ever wanted to do, I’ve done. Except skydiving. I haven’t done that yet,” Alison said with a smile.
Fortunately, none of Alison’s children carry the cancer gene. Even on the longest of days, Alison encourages others to fight, and whatever you do, to never give up. 


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