The Childhood Cancer Blog

Hope and Research: The Elijah Talley Story

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Elijah was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, the most common solid non-brain tumor in children, at just 4 years old. His diagnosis came in 2005, just a year after Alex Scott passed away. Elijah’s family repeated the difficult cycle of remission and relapse over the next three years.

Elijah, now 17, is battling relapsed neuroblastoma.

After three years of treatment for neuroblastoma, Elijah Talley had exhausted options at his hometown hospital. 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 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 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 making 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 similarities between Elijah and ALSF founder Alex Scott's stories led the Talley's to the ALSF website.  Both battled neuroblastoma. Both relapsed. Both needed to travel for treatment.  

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. 

The Talley's have never given up on Elijah, now 17, and ALSF will never give up funding research to help ensure kids like him receive the potentially lifesaving treatment they need.​

“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. 

YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT is why children like Elijah and his family have hope and are able to receive potentially lifesaving treatments to fight childhood cancer.  

YOU ARE THE REASON why Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has been able to continue to fund researchers around the country to develop new treatments and cures for childhood cancer. 

YOUR GENEROUS GIFT helps fund the most promising, innovative scientific projects with the greatest likelihood of making an impact.