Elaine is a normal 14-year old high school girl who dreams of participating in all the usual high school rites of passage. This Sacramento resident has been through so much in her 14 years.
Elaine is an amazing girl that has been through so much. Life has been hard from the very beginning. Born premature, she weighed only two pounds and spent her first weeks and months in the NICU. But even then, Elaine had a strong will to live at such a young age. She was able to pull-through and join her relieved family at home.
At two years old Elaine’s parents noticed something different with her right eye. She started getting a white ring around her pupil. Elaine’s doctors in Sacramento thought it may be a tumor in her right eye. Elaine was referred to UCSF for a second opinion.
The doctors at UCSF confirmed Elaine’s family’s fears. She had Retinoblastoma. The treatment was intense, which meant that her right eye would need to be removed and would require six months of chemotherapy. After the treatment, she was closely monitored with rounds of doctor visits every six months. Each time her family hoped that her left eye would remain cancer free.
Once again, Elaine’s family was relieved that Elaine managed to remain resilient through it all and went on to have a normal childhood, not letting her past hold her back.
February 2017, Ten years later (at the age of 12)she went in for a normal check up, Elaine was diagnosed with scoliosis and was given a back brace. After two months from wearing her back brace she developed neck pain. She was taken into the ER, from there her world changed again after almost ten years of good health.
The ER doctors were concerned that her pain may not be related to the brace and wanted to rule out all possibilities. They requested an MRI of her neck. The MRI confirmed there was a mass and she was diagnosed with spinal cord astrocytoma.
Unfortunately, this time the lesion could not be removed and radiation was the only possibility to shrink and slow down the growth of the tumor.
Elaine was also having stomach pains. The ER doctors thought Elaine may have appendicitis. But while undergoing surgery for what the doctors thought was appendicitis, they discovered that Elaine had colon cancer. Rare in children, Elaine’s colon cancer was stage 4 and she was given only six months to live without treatment.
Since then she has completed eight weeks of radiation, eight months of chemotherapy and had her surgery to reattach her colon. She continued to be closely monitored every six months.
Then came another devastating blow, this past August, she was taken into the ER for severe headaches and an MRI revealed there was a mass in her head. Elaine had surgery two days following to remove the mass. The pathology came back and confirmed that the mass is PNET(Primitive neuroectodermal tumor).
The family was in relief that the whole mass was extracted. But upon follow up MRI’s and evaluation, there was another devastating news. Elaine’s doctors found two fast growing masses in critical areas of the brain. She is currently undergoing radiation 5 days a week for two months with future treatment of chemotherapy for 6 months in hope to reduce the masses.
Elaine’s doctors said she has a genetic mutation that makes her more prone to develop cancer cells; so even after all this is done, the next one is bound to show up. For a girl that has been through so much in her life, she maintains a positive attitude.
As Elaine continues to battle cancer, her wish is to make memories with her entire family, parents, siblings, and her nieces and nephews, at the most magical place of all, Walt Disney World.