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Community supports local athlete battling rare cancer

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CHARLO — The Mission Valley community is wrapping its collective arms around a former Charlo High School three-sport-athlete and wrestling state champion who is battling an extremely rare form of vascular cancer. 

In February, Montana Tech Oredigger freshman Isaiah Allik’s dreams of Saturday afternoon glories on the gridiron were temporally sidelined after he was diagnosed with Pseudomyogenic Hemangioendothelioma, which is a cancer that affects fewer than 100 Americans annually, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

“It was a real shock,” said Allik of his initial diagnosis. “Cancer is a very scary word.”

Allik dealt with what was thought to be merely a nagging muscle injury throughout his senior 2019-20 Mission/Charlo Bulldog wrestling season, which concluded with Allik winning the MHSA Class B/C Championship in the 170-pound weight class. It wasn’t until training for the upcoming Oredigger’s fall football season that the prior leg pain became more persistent and prevalent. “It’s crazy that I wrestled the whole season without a clue,” said Allik.

Initial clinic visits and X-rays did not show signs of a fracture or muscle trauma, but Allik’s leg pain continued to worsen throughout the preseason training. 

After several additional doctor visits and a PET/CT scan in January, a tumor was found on Allik’s right leg. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, PHE is a rare type of blood vessel tumor that usually forms on or under the skin of the arms or legs, but it may also form in deeper tissues, such as muscle and bone. 

There is often more than one tumor, and the tumor may cause pain in the affected area.  

In Allik’s case, PHE had developed multiple small lesions on his right femur – along with one very large lesion that required doctors to place a stabilization rod in the bone.

“Doctors described his bone as having a big shark bite missing,” wrote Allik’s mother Lindsey Dwelle in a recent social media update.

Starting this week, under the care of local Polson family medicine doctor Cara Harrop, along with oncologists from Kalispell, Chicago and Philadelphia, Allik will begin his recovery by undergoing an oral treatment of chemotherapy.

“From what I understand, the treatment will be gentle and will help him avoid serious side effects from an IV chemo,” noted Dwelle. “Also, another drug will be administered to help his bones get stronger.”

Last week, family, friends and fans began spreading the word about an upcoming fundraising concert and junior wrestling tournament designed to help with medical expenses and treatment costs.  

A two-day “Fight for Isaiah” fundraising wrestling tournament for age divisions 8U through high school is being held Friday, April 9, through Saturday, April 10, at St. Ignatius High School.

“This is just something we wanted to do,” said co-organizer Daisy Adams. “In wrestling, people are like close families, and for so long, Isaiah has been a big part of our lives.”

Registration is $20 with weigh-ins from 2-3 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Start time for Friday’s matches is 4 p.m., while Saturday events begin at 9 a.m. Registration and further event details may be found at 

“Isaiah Strong” wristbands and T-shirts will also be available for purchase during the tournament. 

Also on Sunday, April 11,  a barbecue dinner and silent auction will be held at the Leon Community Center, in Charlo, in support of Allik’s fight. The dinner is $25 per person and the silent auction will begin at 3 p.m. with live music from 5-7 p.m. performed by Shodown.

If anyone has items they would like to donate to the silent auction, drop them off at Ninepipes Lodge or contact Stacey Thoft-Plimmer at 720-837-8669. For those interested in helping virtually, a GoFundMe was launched by Montana Tech football coach Kyle Samson to help Allik with medical costs. 

“I never expected the outpouring of support from so many people, many of them complete strangers,” said Dwelle. “I had some dark days in the beginning of this journey, but every day, I would wake up and there were so many messages and phone calls of support that it was uplifting. We got through those first few weeks on the kindness of our neighbors, family, friends and strangers.”


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