After three years of treatment for neuroblastoma, Elijah Talley had exhausted options at his hometown hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. Diagnosed when he was just 4 years old, Elijah went through the endless cycle of treatment and relapse, again and again. Conventional treatments, which included high dose chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant, failed.
Neuroblastoma, the most common type of extra-cranial solid tumor in children, can range from benign to malignant. Advances in targeted therapies have made some cases of neuroblastoma easier to treat; while other cases are still tricky. When frontline treatment fails and children like Elijah relapse, clinical trials represent the best hope for remission and survival.
But, clinical trials are often far from home. For the Talleys, “far” meant a 1200 mile journey to Philadelphia.
The family found a clinical trial at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), led by Dr. John Maris, a member of the ALSF Scientific Advisory Board. On the eve of their third trip to Philadelphia in less than three months, Elijah was unable to fly because of his treatment and condition. The only way to get Elijah to treatment would be an expensive and time-consuming road trip.
“The sad reality is the challenges that come with traveling so far often make it impossible for families. The expenses are incredibly overwhelming—especially when most families like ours are already in great financial distress,” said Dawn Talley, Elijah’s mother.
The Talleys found Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation because of the story of our founder Alex’s battle with neuroblastoma.
Working with their hospital social worker, the Talleys used the ALSF Travel for Care program to help with travel expenses to and from Philadelphia. Dawn even recalls a time when the family was stranded in Chicago overnight because of weather. She had $13 in her wallet.
“Our social worker made the call to ALSF and within minutes, the staff reserved a hotel room that not only had a free airport shuttle but also had a complimentary breakfast,” said Dawn.
Elijah had been traveling back and forth from Little Rock to Philadelphia for nine years and hosting ALSF lemonade stands for 11 years. Elijah still has neuroblastoma—but the treatments guided by Dr. Maris and his neuroblastoma team at CHOP continue to offer hope.
“I know that we would go to the ends of the world to save our son. I also know that we couldn’t get there without help,” said Dawn.
Read more about Elijah and his hero story here.
About Travel for Care
Open to all institutions in the U.S. and Canada, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s Travel for Care program offers assistance to families who face the need to travel for potentially lifesaving childhood cancer treatment. Assistance for transportation and lodging may be available to families who meet program guidelines and apply through a member of their medical team. Read more here.