A rock star, a warrior and a desire for normalcy: Lexi Myers and her courageous battle with cancer

  • Merrimack Valley student Lexi Myers has battled cancer intermittently for four years. COURTESY

  • Merrimack Valley student Lexi Myers has battled cancer intermittently for four years. COURTESY

  • Merrimack Valley student Lexi Myers has dealt with multiple rounds of surgeries and radiation. Courtesy

  • Merrimack Valley student Lexi Myers has battled cancer intermittently for four years. COURTESY

  • Merrimack Valley student Lexi Myers has battled cancer intermittently for four years. Courtesy

  • Merrimack Valley student Lexi Myers has battled cancer intermittently for four years. COURTESY

Monitor staff
Published: 10/28/2021 5:19:49 PM

Lexi Myers briefly gazes out the car window while she and her mother, Andrea, head down Interstate-93 toward Boston.

With her assortment of snacks that include various candies and her newfound favorite chips, the spicy barbeque Voodoo brand, the 16-year-old Merrimack Valley junior bursts out singing the lyrics of a song that’s two decades older than she is.

“Raspberry Beret” by Prince and the Revolution fills the car with sound and the two let its pop-rock composition flood their present environment knowing that in a few hours they’ll be reminded of a continuous hardship.

Boston is a city that the Myers family is well-acquainted with. It’s not because of the visits to Fenway, hours exploring historic colonial sites or taking in the assortment of restaurants and bustling crowds.

Rather, it’s spent waiting on scans and tests to come back. It’s spent pacing up and down the hallways in Mass General. Mostly, it’s become a city where they’re waiting on a miracle to happen.

In the summer of 2017, Lexi and her older brother Corbin were on their way home from Charlestown where their dad John and stepmom (affectionately called the bonus mom) Laurie reside.

Only a few miles away from Andrea’s house in Penacook, Lexi suddenly woke up from a nap and immediately began to get sick. She never was one to get car sick so her parents just thought it was a stomach flu. A few days went by and her condition remained the same with no signs of improvement so a trip to the emergency room at Concord Hospital was in order.

Initially, the emergency room concluded it was dehydration and a severe bout with the stomach flu and sent them home. But a second visit after the suggestion from the family pediatrician led to a closer and more thorough examination.

The scans and MRIs revealed it was more serious than just dehydration or even the worst case of the stomach flu.

She had cancer.

The technical diagnosis is called pediatric ependymoma anaplastic. The conversational diagnosis is an extremely rare form of brain cancer where tumors begin to grow in the brain, brainstem or the spinal cord. Lexi’s tumor was on the posterior fossa, a small space by the brainstem and the cerebellum.

From that moment in late summer, Lexi’s life would forever change. It was decided that treatment would be better conducted at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon where the first of three brain surgeries were performed. In order to ensure that the cancer was removed, Lexi then went to Mass General for the first round of radiation.

Along the way, she actually had to have her braces removed in order for the doctors to perform more scans, a lone bright spot.

“That sucked, huh?” Andrea asked Lexi on a Zoom call. “Nah, not really,” she said through a laugh.

Radiation and the surgery effectively removed all signs of tumors and the cancer remained at bay. Standard procedure for someone with Lexi’s diagnosis calls for MRIs every three months. A year after she was told she was in the clear, the news arrived that tumors had returned. This time, in the pituitary gland and the optic nerve.

More surgeries, more radiation and even a years’ worth of chemotherapy were brought into the treatment plan. The chemotherapy did a toll on her body and nearly did more harm than good, according to John. During her bouts with chemo, she ended up having three blood transfusions and dealt with a blood infection that could have killed her. Lexi once again stood victorious against her enemy, albeit much weaker than the first time around.

Another year of clean MRIs until Oct. 4 of this year. That round of results showed tumors once again near the pituitary gland, optic nerve and now her carotid artery – a major network of blood vessels that supply blood to the brain, neck and face.

It’ll be another round of treatments. Radiation the main source, but with the cancer now widespread, Lexi and her family are holding out for a miracle as the prognosis isn’t great. They’re exploring life-extension treatments through clinical trials at a hospital in Georgia.

A proud and humble family, Andrea never asks for help from those around her, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t receive any. Countless people within their support group have donated money whether it’s on the Go Fund Me page, or a ding-dong-ditch where Andrea has answered the door with no one there but jars filled with money sit.

Kathy Hollins is a close family friend of the Myers. The two families have known each other since Lexi and Hollins’ two sons started kindergarten.

Hollins is the president of the Merrimack Valley football boosters, and organized for the Pride’s last game of the season to be dedicated to Lexi. “MV loves Lexi” features her calling heads or tails at the coin toss – she’s pretty sure she’s going with tails. The junior varsity football players and injured varsity players plan to go through the bleachers at halftime to collect donations for the Myers family.

Lexi now stares down the biggest battle with her cancer to date. She’s often referred to as a rock star and a warrior by her family, friends and doctors. More than ever she’s going to have to be those things.

She remains full of life, however. Cracking jokes with her family, randomly dancing to her favorite artist, Ariana Grande, and seeing her friends when ever she has the strength to do so.

Those drives down to Boston will continue to happen. More snacks will be consumed and laughs shared.

And more renditions of “Raspberry Beret” will happen.

Matt Parker bio photo

Matt Parker is a sports reporter at the Monitor and started in August 2021. He is an Ohio native and relishes being from the Buckeye state. A proud graduate of Ohio University located in Athens, Ohio, he served as the sports editor for the student-run newspaper, The Post, from 2019-20. When not at a game or chasing around a coach, you can catch him playing his guitars or looking for the next Peanuts memorabilia piece to add in his growing collection.

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