Fourteen-year-old Elijah Clark is no stranger to adversity. Born without hands, Elijah exhibited independence and competence at a young age. When his kindergarten teacher called his parents Alishia and Marvin to let them know that he was the only student able to open his milk box by himself, they knew their outgoing son would persevere and not let his lack of hands hamper his ability to succeed.
A passionate soccer player, Elijah thought he had pulled a muscle in his back and was given a muscle relaxer. Diagnosed with high blood pressure, the muscle relaxer caused his blood pressure to drop resulting in a concussion on the soccer field. While recovering from the concussion, Elijah’s parents noticed he began sleeping excessively, losing weight and a rash on his face appeared. After he recovered from his concussion, he began to complain of nausea, ran a low grade fever and was sweating at night. The fever persisted prompting Alishia to bring Elijah to the pediatrician where she requested them to test for Lupus considering her sister has Lupus and experienced similar symptoms. The tests, followed by more blood tests, were inconclusive. When Elijah began having abdominal pain and trouble walking, he was admitted to the hospital where x-rays, CT scans, more blood work and ultimately a biopsy revealed that he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Elijah began a 21-day treatment cycle and his prognosis is great – his doctors expect a full recovery. The chemotherapy has caused Elijah to have both good and bad days, limiting his social life, but his positive attitude remains. Elijah continues to strive for excellence in everything that he does and his parents feel secure that he will grow into a happy, successful adult embracing the joy in life considering the battles he’s fought at such a young age.
His parents continue to hope for better treatments with less side effects for others facing a similar diagnosis as well as discoveries finding ways to prevent childhood cancer. They remind others that a childhood cancer diagnosis is a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter what – to keep fighting for their hero.
“Cancer won’t beat me!” – Elijah Clark
“If I can do it, you can do it.” – Elijah Clark
Information provided by Marvin & Alishia Clark, Elijah’s parents