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'Always keep your hope': Cleveland Heights woman names son after oncologist who helped save her life

Allie Englert is more than a survivor; she's a miracle.

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Miracles happen every day, though sometimes we don't see them until the middle of the storm. No one knows this better than 32-year-old Allie Englert.

"In 2016, I was working in the emergency department as a nurse at Lake West Hospital," Allie recalls. "I had a lump that was on my back, and I had asked some of my doctor friends and my nurse friends, like, 'What do you think this is?' And they were like, 'Oh, it's probably just a pulled muscle.'"

Yet nagging pain for months said otherwise.

"I went and saw my primary care doctor, and then they decided to do some tests, which ended up becoming like a biopsy," Allie said. "The X-ray showed something."

Then, the phone call from the doctor confirmed the worst.

"I just thought that this was a mistake. It was the wrong biopsy," she remembered. "There's no way that could be what it really was."

Englert had been diagnosed with desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT), an extremely rare sarcoma that mostly affects children, adolescents, and young adults. The prognosis? Not good.

"Usually, it's very bad, especially if you have metastatic disease at diagnosis," Dr. Peter Anderson, Allie's oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's, said.

She needed a miracle, and it came fast. At the time of her diagnosis, Allie was broken up with her boyfriend of six years, Tommy. Thankfully, that didn't last.

"He came with me to some of the doctor appointments and just kind of never left," she told us.

There would be more big tests ahead: aggressive chemo and radiation for 10 months. Allie thought she was in the clear, and she and Tommy even married in 2017.

Then, a setback.

"At the end of 2018, that spot in my lung came back," Englert explained. "Being a nurse, I'm like, 'Okay, well, this is it. Like, I had a good run, but now it's probably time to start thinking about, like, the end.'"

By then, Allie had been called to a new career as an oncology nurse, caring full-time for cancer patients while she herself wondered if she'd survive.

"I meet so many incredible people that give me inspiration and hope," she said. "Like, 'Oh, I was given five months to live and here I am 15 years later.' There's a chance for me. Somebody has to be the one that beats the statistics."

Only 30 to 55% of people with DSRCT survive, but after Allie received cutting-edge treatment from Taussig Cancer Center, she beat the odds. Another miracle.

"After that six months, they were like, 'Everything looks good,'" Allie remembers doctors telling her. "We kind of just decided to start just doing the things we wanted to do and not think about cancer."

Then, something else happened.

"So I wasn't sure if my body would be able to have a baby," Allie explained. "A few months later, I found out I was pregnant."

Yep, a miracle.

"I'm like, 'I don't know if this is real,' and then I woke [Tommy] up and I'm like, 'Oh my God, you won't believe this,'" she described. "He was just, like, fresh out of sleep, just like, 'What are you talking about?'"

Their son, Peter, was born on St. Patrick's Day 2022. Did you notice the name? 

"Dr. Anderson basically saved my life," Allie said.

"He's just an amazing guy," Tommy added, "and what better person to name our son after than him?"

The gesture means so much to Anderson.

"Oh, it's extremely gratifying," he said, "because like many other oncologists, we have our ups and downs, and it can be a sad profession. But instead of becoming cynical, you can be spiritual and feel like I was the right person at the right place at the right time for this family."

In a few weeks, Allie goes back to work, back to pay it forward to the brave cancer warriors who never let her give up.

"It's not always a death sentence," she said of the disease. "There are so many trials that are coming up, and [I] just [tell people] to always keep your hope, because without hope, what else do you have?"

Today, six years after her diagnosis, Allie is cancer-free. This June, she'll raise awareness at a Race to Cure Sarcoma. To learn more about the event or how to donate, click HERE.

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