Our Heroes



Meet Ella

Ella is our first sponsored child. Her scrappy spirit has been key to her remarkable survival story as she’s faced unbeatable odds to fight through a parade of beatings from her tumors, treatments, and related complications. Each time she gets knocked down . . . she gets up again, eventually smiles, and pushes on to live another day and fight another fight.

Ella was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2015, after experiencing inexplicable leg and back pains. Doctors eventually discovered a grapefruit-sized octopus shaped tumor in her abdomen, with tentacles invading several nearby systems including one penetrating into Ella’s spinal column and triggering her pains. She also had numerous tumors in her lungs, liver, and starting to ‘sugar coat’ around her brain. Stage IV metastatic rhabdoid sarcoma. Too many tumors and too tangled to surgically remove. And too far advanced and fast growing to try to cure therapeutically. Ella was given just a few months to live.

But Ella wouldn’t go down without a fight. Her oncologists decided to at least try one round of radiation, specifically targeting the spinal tentacle in hopes of slowing its growth to reduce Ella’s pain and stave off paralysis …and the radiation helped almost immediately. So then her doctors decided to try a single round of chemotherapy …and it worked too.

Tumor growth was slowing, some even to shrink. So then additional chemo rounds were ordered to try to buy Ella just a little more time. Her medical team gave Ella “an inch, but she took a mile.” And today, over a year later, she’s still fighting back. Now with realistic hopes of remission and recovery. She’s survived additional radiation, dozens of chemotherapy infusions, major surgeries on her abdomen and brain, bone marrow transplant (using her own peripheral blood stem cells) and a barrage of complications which several times landed her in the ICU.

Ella’s marathon fight has taken its toll on her family too. The exhaustive time and care demands later precipitated an unplanned job change for her father, which then triggered the need for her family to sell their home in Evergreen, CO. But with Ella’s brilliant example of tenacity and hope, the whole family is enduring this adventure closer together and stronger than ever. Like her mother, Ella is a gifted artist and the two of them spend a lot of time working on crafts together, with plans to keep doing so for many, many years to come.

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