As you may know, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. So, before the month draws to a close, I’d like to tell you a story about one of the greatest little cancer warriors to ever walk the face of the Earth, Elijah Sims. I know I’ve written about Eli before, but to me, he should be spoken about often, so no one ever forgets what this sweet child accomplished in his brief Earthly existence.
Eli was only 21 months old when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hepatoblastoma, and the cancer has metastasized to his lungs. The prognosis wasn’t a good one, but Eli was a fighter, and he fought the disease with every fiber of his being, for well over a year. Eli passed just a few weeks after his third birthday.
It was a fight that was just too big for such a small child, but the warrior instilled in his little body didn’t know the difference. His courageous battle won the hearts of so many, and because of that, a hero was born. A golden-haired little hero with a smile that could just seem to light up the world. A smile that would show no indication of the battle scars he carried inside. Eli’s very presence seem to warm you inside, kinda like a Heavenly aura surrounding him at all times. People were drawn to his sweet spirit and once you had been around Eli, your life would never be the same. His story touched so many lives in ways that we may never really know.
I know it seems weird to call a toddler a hero, especially when the horrific disease seemed to beat him in the end , but sometimes in life, there’s a bigger picture. You take a small child, who should never even have known any pain, other than a few scrapes and bruises, and watch him take on such a deadly disease and fight it with the strength of ten grown men, well now…that’s not something many will ever see in a lifetime and it changes you.
A true David and Goliath story, although the ending wasn’t quite the same, the efforts were instilled in your heart and you never quite forget it. And sometimes in life, that’s just the way it is. It’s a battle you were never meant to win, but yet how you handle it that serves as a lesson for others. A lesson of hope to many that if a small wisp of a boy can fight a huge cancer monster with unbeatable odds, that maybe you can take on whatever demons you are facing in life.
And as a parent myself, I can’t even imagine the pain that Jason and Kelcey Sims experienced as they watched the cancer eventually overtake the body of their sweet baby son. As a parent, it is our job to make your child never hurts. To put that band-aid on, kiss the boo-boo and make it all better. But the Sims never had this option. They had to stand by and helplessly watch as Eli underwent strong chemo treatments meant only for adults wreaked havoc on his little body. The hospitals, the needles, the courses of treatments, the pain that they couldn’t make go away. It just seems so unfair.
I’m not even sure if I could have handled it, but yet Kelcey and Jason clung hard to their faith that God would heal their son. And in the end, although it wasn’t the healing they had hoped for, it was still a healing. The best kind for Eli, one they could take comfort in, but it still doesn’t ease the ache in their hearts or their empty arms.
Childhood Cancer is simply unfair and must be eliminated. So, Kelcey wants to pass on some information and statistics to make the public more aware, in hopes that no child will ever have to suffer the way her son did. Parents, please read these carefully and be aware of any potential warning signs.
Kelcey Sims: “My goal is to just make people aware of the information about childhood cancer. As a nurse and someone being in the medical field for 10 years now even I didn’t know about the things I learned after Eli was diagnosed. I just want parents to be aware of the warning signs and to know it can happen to your child too! My goal is to make more companies and people want to research childhood cancer and put just as much effort into it as they do adult cancer. Here are some points I want to make people aware of:
- Pediatric cancer is the #1 disease killer of kids in the US.
- More American children die of cancer than of aids, asthma,cystic fibrosis, congenital abnormalities and diabetes combined
- 7 kids die each day of pediatric cancer.
- “0” , yes that’s ZERO screening methods are available so there is no way of preventing the cancer.
- Each day 36 kids are diagnosed.
- Pediatric cancer is the leading pediatric disease killer, annually killing more kids than kidnapping, drug overdose, gun-related deaths, and drowning.
- Less than 4% of our governments cancer research budget is allocated to children’s cancer research.
- 80% of pediatric cancers are metastasized/spread at time of diagnosis. ( at 21 no the old Eli was stage 4 with mets to lungs)
- Only 3 new pediatric drugs were developed in the last 20 years compared to 23 drugs for adults in 2012.
- 3 out of 5 childhood cancer survivors develop late physical and emotional effects, such as ptsd, infertility and vision loss, secondary cancers.
- Average cost of cancer treatment for 1 child is $500,000.00. Out-of-pocket costs average $35,000.00 per child for treatment.
- When a crib hurts a few children there is a massive recall and you hear it on the news. But when cancer kills 7 kids everyday no one seems to notice .
- Childhood cancer awareness signs and symptoms: Continued, unexplained weight loss. Headaches, often with early Morning vomit. Increased swelling or persistent pain in bones, joints back or legs. Lump or mass ,especially in abdomen, neck, chest, pelvis, or arm pits. Development of excessive nursing, bleeding, or rash. Consistent Infections, A whitish color behind pupil. Nausea which persists or vomiting without nausea Consistent tiredness or noticeable lameness. Eye or vision changes which occur suddenly and persist. Recurrent or persistent fevers of unknown origin. Eli had 9 of these 11 symptoms!!!!
Childhood cancer, two words a parent never wants to hear. An illness no child should ever have to endure. Let’s fight the fight and put an end to this heartbreaker. Eli was my HERO: an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles!”
Team Eli remains active in his memory and continue their crusade to end Childhood Cancer. The 2nd Annual Team Eli Halloween Hustle Costume Run is a 5k Run/Walk for Adults and kids older than 12. Also, for the kids 12 and under they will have a 1 mile fun run/walk. The event will be held Saturday, October 21, 2017 from 8 AM-11AM at the Lineville park.
Team Eli hope to continue this event annually, choosing different organization to benefit each year. This year they have chosen The Make A Wish Foundation. This organization sent Eli and his family to meet Mickey Mouse at Disney World a few short weeks before his passing. They gave him joy in his last days and we would like to help them give that to someone else.