Anyone who has met my dad, Ellis Kell, no matter the occasion, will tell you he is an instant friend. So talented, generous and genuinely caring to everyone he encounters.
We’re using this platform to keep family and friends updated about my Dad’s health journey. I hope that mom and dad will login to add to this journal as time goes on. Meanwhile, you’ve got me to share my family’s story. Here is where we are as of today.
On October 18th 2016, my dad, Ellis was diagnosed with cancer, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus to be specific. What was supposed to be a time of gratitude and anticipation as our family was planning our annual MOONDANCE fundraising event that honors my sister Karli Rose who died 14 years ago, at age 17 in a tragic car accident, turned into a nightmare. How could our family be struck again with a catastrophic and life-changing crisis?
My dad insisted that his diagnosis take a backseat to the planning and execution of MOONDANCE. He led us with his chin up, smile and even joined the house band to play a few songs. Somehow he compartmentalized the fear of the unknown with his own health while encouraging volunteers and family to make sure the event was a success so the MOONDANCE fund could continue benefit kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to attend RME music programs. The night was very tough on me and my family. We’re grateful for all of our supporters.
Since the day of diagnosis, my dad has gone through endless testing, found out that his cancer is at stage 4 and has spread to his lungs and liver and endured four weeks of aggressive chemotherapy that caused havoc to his body. Because of the difficulty swallowing and the effects of the chemo, my dad can barely eat. So these days, if he’s able to consume just 300 calories, we think it’s a good day. His ongoing treatment plan includes a mix of two chemo drugs; carboplatin and irinotecan once a week for 4 weeks, then 2 weeks off – for six rounds. Twenty-four weeks total. Dr. G. has told Dad this is not going to be easy. He is going to have to fight like hell.
My dad wants everyone to know that he’s grateful for the encouraging words and support. He continues to work (River Music Experience) as much as he can. If you know my dad, you know how much he loves the RME and its mission. Feeling so physically ill is hard for him, but not being able to interact with his colleagues, musicians and importantly, the kids – has been heartbreaking for my dad.
For three weeks, my dad didn’t play a note of music. He’s too sick. It’s so foreign for my kids and me to go to mom and dad’s house and not see my dad at the piano or with a guitar in his arms. He did have a good day a couple of weeks ago and I caught him on the piano. I couldn’t restrain the tears of gratitude. It’s the small things nowadays.
You probably already know, we’re a really tight family. I often think that because of the death of my sister, we’re much closer and dependent on one another than most. We don’t take a day for granted, friendships assumed or underestimate the value of our family.
We’re a proud family, especially dad and mom. I’ve grown up with remarkably generous parents. Whether lending a hand or a dollar, I’ve seen my parents offer kindness, love and service to friends and strangers alike. The values that my parents instilled in me are not principles taught in a classroom, but instead learned every day at home. And they would not ever think of asking others to help them.
So, I’m asking. There are so many out there that love and care about my dad. I need him to know that he is NOT fighting alone. If you’re so inclined, here are three options that would help my dad and family. 1). Pray for healing and peace so that he feels the love and destined for God’s glory. 2). Share a memory, story or encouraging words to my dad. 3). If you feel compelled, and as dad’s medical bills stack up, a contribution of any amount would help my mom and dad in this time of need.