The star of VH1’s Harlem tattoo parlor reality TV show “Black Ink” Allison Monroe nurtured her son Joshua, 14, through his struggle with terminal brain cancer. Now SurvivorNet family is sending love as she mourns his loss.
“My baby boy is gone,” Allison wrote in a heartbreaking Instagram post. “As I smell the tee shirt you were wearing yesterday, my eyes swell up with tears. Not just tears of sadness. But tears of joy! Just knowing that yesterday morning you were able to walk and talk again in heaven. I asked you yesterday to come visit me in my sleep. You didn’t come last night. No rush baby boy I know I’ll see you soon. This shit feels fake. I love and miss you so bad Joshua. #teamJAM”
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My baby boy is gone. As I smell the tee shirt you were wearing yesterday, my eyes swell up with tears. Not just tears of sadness. But tears of joy! Just knowing that yesterday morning you were able to walk and talk again in heaven. I asked you yesterday to come visit me in my sleep. You didn’t come last night. No rush baby boy I know I’ll see you soon. This shit feels fake. I love and miss you so bad Joshua. #teamJAM
We don’t know the specifics of Joshua’s case, but we do know that brain cancer differs from other cancers, in that it usually doesn’t travel to other parts of the body, according to Dr. Melanie Hayden Gephart, Brain Tumor Neurosurgeon at Stanford University Medical Center. “The way that brain tumors are graded is very different than the way that tumors are graded in other parts of the body,’ says Dr. Gephart. “For the most part, tumors that originate from brain cells themselves don’t travel to other parts of the body. That’s quite different than other types of cancer, like breast cancer and lung cancer, that do have the potential to travel to other organs, including to the brain.”
So doctors have to look closely at the cancer cells in order to grade the cancer, or tell you which stage your cancer is at. “So the way that we grade them is—has to do with how quickly the cells are dividing, what cell we think is misbehaving, and then how abnormal do those, uh, do those cells look?” says Dr. Gephart.
The most common type of brain cancer, called glioblastoma, is also the most malignant. “The challenge in treating that tumor is that it, it diffusely migrates throughout the brain,” says Dr. Gephart. “And even at the time of diagnosis, we know that there are small tumor cells that have actually traveled even potentially to the other side of the brain or down into the spinal cord.”
Because it’s so diffuse, treating this disease can be especially difficult. “That makes our treatments very challenging because, even though I know that if I can get out at least 80% of the tumor, I’ll improve, overall, the patient’s outcome.”
And surgery isn’t an option. “It’s not a surgically curable disease, meaning that we need radiation and systemic chemotherapy to help contain the disease,” Dr. Gephart continues. “At this point, I don’t feel like we have good, durable cures, but we have well-tolerated treatments that can improve the patients’ quality of life and give them, also, additional time.”
The two year survival rate for glioblastoma is very low, but there are some patients who are living past the typical period of survival.
Allison and her son found out about his brain cancer diagnosis years ago, and she has been open about it ever since. Some of her recent Instagram post commemorate her son’s life.
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Allison has appeared on “Black Ink” as the best friend of main character Sky Days. The show depicts the staff a tattoo parlor in Harlem, NY as it becomes increasingly popular with a celebrity clientele.