2017 St. Jude Dream Home helps children like Alyssa

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The 2017 St. Jude Dream Home is nearly complete.

The home is a 3-bedroom, 3.5 bath home in Rossville, Tennessee.  It is approximately 3,000 square feet and features an executive kitchen with a walk-in pantry. It also has an oversized laundry area and a master suite with a salon bath and double walk-in closets.

St. Jude's Dream Home fundraiser is one of the main ways the children's research hospital raises money every year. The fundraiser allows people to reserve $100 raffle tickets that will be drawn to see who wins the home.

You can secure your tickets by calling 1-800-224-6681 or clicking here. Tickets are $100 apiece and 100 percent of the proceeds benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Money raised during the Dream Home fundraiser helps children like Alyssa.

"You know you think of everything she's been through and everything she's had to endure these last two years," Alyssa's mom Angela said. "It's kind of like capping point everything she's been through.  Alyssa's journey is a little probably most.  Since Alyssa was born she had a lot of medical issues.  Premature, she had a heart condition, neurological issues has a lot of different medical things so for a long time we went to a lot of doctors.  A lot of specialists and we asked a lot of questions and we pretty much got nothing in return.

No answers no reason nothing to put the puzzle together.  In May 2012 some of her moles had started to change something didn't look right so her pediatrician who told me oh don't worry about it but if you're really gonna worry I'll send you to the dermatologist. Two weeks later I got the phone call he said your child has melanoma."

Each year fewer than 70 kids in the U.S. under the age of 10 are found to have melanoma.  Alyssa's doctor referred her to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

"The first thing you do is what they tell you not to do you go to the Internet you Google it and most of the cases we found online the prognosis was not good," Angela said.

Alyssa was in a race against time.  If her melanoma spread beyond the lymph nodes, her survival rate could be less than 20 percent.

"We find out that had traveled so it did make it to the lymph nodes.   All this is happening in feel almost helpless like I wish I could do this for my child.  You want to do everything you can to protect your child and you can't always do that," Angela said.

While Alyssa was at St. Jude for melanoma treatment, Her doctor was able to find the reason for all of Alyssa's other health problems.

"When you have too many things together you have to think of a syndrome, because it's  too much coincidence to have three or four or five organs affected at one given time," Dr. Alberto Pappo said.

Dr. Pappo at St. Jude was able to link Alyssa's melanoma and her other health issues to a genetic disorder called Koolen-de Vries syndrome.

"I remember feel very happy that we finally had an explanation for more than anything and that the mother was extremely happy to have someone at least give them an explanation as to what all of this is happening you regardless of the melanoma," Dr. Pappo said.

"I think we would know what was what Melissa had I think would still be wondering from specialist to specialist and doing whatever we can searching for answers and probably not getting them," Angela said.

"It allowed us to coordinate her care more thoroughly so that we could identify a dentist by an endocrinologist we could identify cardiologists that would take care of her cardiac issues we could identify an orthopedic surgeon.  After all we're pediatricians and our job is to take care of the whole patient," Dr. Pappo said.

Even with the discovery of the Koolen-de Vries syndrome, Dr. Pappo and his team were still fighting Alyssa's melanoma.

"I'm thankful that we were at St. Jude and they were very proactive to do another surgery and they took out the rest of her lymph nodes trying to found out how far the cancer had actually traveled.  Fortunately it had not made it to the organs. The cancer would have been everywhere and I don't even want to think about that," Angela said.

Every year during the FedEx St. Jude Classic golf tournament, St. Jude partner FedEx honors a St. Jude patient by naming one of their aircraft after a patient at St. Jude. This year, Alyssa was chosen as that patient.

Alyssa is now cancer free and returns to St. Jude very 6 months for scans to make sure her cancer has not come back.

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