The "Crazy Chemo-Lady" fighting cancer with a smile

10:23 PM, Oct 13, 2010   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

Town and Country (KSDK) -- At Missouri Baptist Medical Center, the best medicine doesn't always come from a doctor. Sometimes, you just need a dose of Jodi Allen.

"She's very special," says Diane Terranova, a nurse.

"She walks into a room and lights up a room no matter where she goes," says Carolyn Miller, Jodi's friend.

Allen's become the most contagious thing in the Cancer Center. Every Wednesday, along with friends and family members, she dresses up in costume and passes out goodies.

"So today we're going with a little Chinatown," Allen says.

She tries to offer patients some smile therapy to lessen the affects of their chemotherapy.

"It's a heavy place to walk into because you know everyone here is fighting some pretty big battles," Allen says.

This has been going on for four months; ever since she found out she had cancer.

"In early June, is when I first felt a lump in my breast," Allen says.

Allen, a 39-year-old mother of two, had no history of breast cancer in her family. Even after all the testing she was sure that the problem was something minor. Then she got the dreaded phone call.

"I immediately fell to my knees and it felt like I was punched in the gut," she says.

After spending about a week asking all the familiar questions, Allen's sister asked her a question.

"I said, 'This is not going to be a fun summer,'" says Allen. "And she quickly said, 'Why not?'"

"From there it became like it was a managed down the field march. Let's go," says Jim Allen, Jodi's husband.

You see, Allen is a former Southwest Airlines executive who has always believed that attitude determines altitude. Facing 20 weeks of chemo she decided not only to cope but to try and offer hope to others.

"No one says that just because we have cancer, we can't laugh and we can't have fun and celebrate our blessings while we're here," says Allen.

On the day of her weekly treatments she comes to the Cancer Center trying to make something unpleasant a little more pleasant.

"She is known as the crazy chemo lady," laughs Miller.

"She's really brought some joy to us and a renewal of the spirit for us nurses," says Terranova.

And she apparently has no trouble recruiting and army of friends and family to help.

"It's so much like her to take a situation like getting chemo and make it fun and spread joy," says her friend Julie Sutherland.

"I think the fact that I have cancer helps," Allen says. "It's not someone from the outside coming in and telling people smile and be happy and find some joy in your life while you're here. I got it. I'm battling it too."

When she's done giving, it's time for Jodi to get her chemotherapy. Make no mistake; she knows beating cancer is serious business. And so does everyone close to her.

"I have to admit I am scared," says Jodi's husband through tears. "I'm scared but I try not to let it show because I don't want it to bleed over to others."

But if heart helps determine outcome then cancer doesn't stand a chance.

"It makes me proud," says Jim Allen. "There are times I pinch myself and I go I don't know how she's doing it."

There may be nothing more courageous than facing fear with a smile on your face.

"There are some really wonderful people," says a smiling Jodi. "And wonderful times and blessings in our life to still enjoy."

Even in the midst of the storm, Jodi says take time to dance in the rain.


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