Meet Eleanor (Ella, EllaJo, Little Miss Sunshine)! She is a vibrant and adventurous 11-year-old and our Little Miss Sunshine.
Born in February of 2012, Ella spent her first summer surprising us with unexpected fevers, multiple ear infections, and an increasingly heavy sleep schedule. On September 2nd, she stopped nursing and simply couldn’t stay awake. We rushed our little six-month-old to the ER where she was quickly diagnosed with High-Risk Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Over the next few days, we watched helplessly as her tiny little body endured surgery, several scans, a bone marrow biopsy, multiple blood transfusions, and a host of chemotherapies.
The first month of her treatment felt like a big grey storm cloud. While she was busy fighting for her life, she stopped sitting up, rolling over and babbling. She ignored her toys and showed no interest in moving or crawling. Her smile disappeared, and her eyes were those of an old soul.
The changes we saw when she started to feel better were profound. Her Little Miss Sunshine smile came back, and we got our first glimpses of the courageous, determined fighter that she is today.
When Eleanor was diagnosed, we spent weeks researching her cancer and learning how we could best help her fight. We were shocked to find that there was only one single very specific treatment that would help her. We learned that doctors and scientists are making significant advances treating ALL, but there is still so much to do. This was the push that we needed to start our own action. We started this Hero Fund to support research for better therapies to target, treat and cure infant leukemia. This is our way to share Eleanor’s bright sunshine and infectious love of life.
Little Miss Sunshine’s treatments were harsh on her tiny little body, but they had to be to save her life. Some of these life-saving medicines come with the potential for serious side effects. As we have watched Eleanor grow into this amazing kid today, we have begun to recognize how important it is for us to also focus on finding ways to lessen the side effects from treatment and improve quality of life for these little ones.
A recent study shows that because of the treatments they had as kids, more than 95% of survivors will have a chronic health problem and 80% will have severe or life-threatening conditions.
Because of the treatments Ella had while her body and brain were starting to develop, she will face all kinds of life-long side effects, including life-threatening ones. Her chemotherapies are known to cause neurocognitive functioning problems associated with memory and executive functioning, attention, processing speed and learning retention. Eleanor is considered high-risk for cardiomyopathy, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis, osteopenia, avascular necrosis, hemorrhagic cystitis, and secondary malignancies, including leukemias and melanomas.
So, in addition to finding cures, we believe that research also needs to focus on preventing the lifelong damage to little bodies and brains that are just developing.
Today, Eleanor loves filling up her days with singing and dancing, theater, cello, science club, therapeutic horseback riding and art club. She is always whistling and sharing stories – and it’s easy to pick her spunky voice out in a crowded room (it’s one of a kind!). Ella loves to paint and draw; she loves books and her cats. She is absorbing the world around her and embracing all things beautiful.
Ella's heart is huge!! She has dedicated her time towards giving back to others going through similar experiences. Ella designed awesome ‘Little Miss Sunshine ‘socks and ‘Starfish’ socks to give to kids in the hospital and raise funds for her Ella’s Love Heals ALL hero fund. She spends the winter collecting food for the local food shelter. This past spring, she donated more than 12+ inches of her hair to Wigs for Kids and in the process, raised $5000 for her Hero Fund! Her future plans include designing and sewing clothes for sick kids, and maybe even studying to become a nurse.
We are so lucky to still be able to bask in her light. After eleven years, we know that her medicines continue to work and are giving us more time with her. She is in remission. Please join our fight – Eleanor’s fight – to help children in their battle against cancer and the life-long side effects they will face.
Me - Eleanor
Who do I live with? My parents, my brother, and my kitty cats Maggie, Sparkles and Figaro
Favorite Colors – Purple
Favorite Animal – Elephant (it starts with the letter E) and cats
School – 6th Grade!!!!
Favorite Food – Strawberries and Pizza
Favorite Book – Warrior Cats books
Favorite Movie – Harry Potter & Star Wars
Favorite TV Show – The Simpsons
What I want to be when I grow up – Nurse (a Mermaid-Unicorn), and an Artist
Favorite Activities – Chorus, fishing, video games, art, horseback riding, dancing
What I want to be when I grow up – Nurse (and a Mermaid-Unicorn)
Favorite Activities – Select chorus, fishing, video games, science club
Favorite Sports – Baseball & Gymnastics & Dancing
Donations given to the Ella's Love Heals A.L.L. Fund go directly to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund lifesaving childhood cancer research around the world. The Foundation is guided by a Scientific Advisory Committee, comprised of leading experts in the childhood cancer community, to ensure that every dollar makes the greatest impact for kids with cancer.
These people make us smile - they’re the doers and money-raisers on behalf of Ella's Love Heals A.L.L. They’re shaving their heads, hosting events, starting fundraisers and more to make childhood cancer research possible.
Start your own St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event to raise money on behalf of our Hero Fund! You’ll be paired with a staff member who will walk you through every step of the process, and you’ll have fun knowing you’re doing a great thing for kids with cancer.
Register to shave your head and raise money for our Hero Fund at any St. Baldrick’s event happening around the world! Not finding an event near you? Register as a virtual shavee and shave your head anytime, anywhere.