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Why We Give: Meet Eli and Imagine a World Without Childhood Cancer

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Three years into treatment for stage IV neuroblastoma, Eli was out of options. His cancer was not quitting; but neither was Eli.

His family and local team of doctors in Arkansas found out about some promising treatments available 1,200 miles away in Philadelphia. There was no hesitation: the family would make the trip. Eli enrolled in his first clinical trial, led by Dr. John Maris, an ALSF-funded researcher. The trip to Philadelphia was long and expensive; but the ALSF Travel for Care program was there to help.

Since that first trial, Eli has had both setbacks and successes. There are more options than were available 13 years ago when Eli was first diagnosed—and his family can imagine a world without childhood cancer. 

“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, Eli’s mom.

As Eli’s team works to find the best options for a cure, ALSF works to find more ways to fund the research that will lead to cures. We know cures happen when we all come together to give generously and allocate those gifts strategically to the most promising projects. 

“Discovery and research are critical. While we make progress every day, we’ve probably discovered less than 1-percent of all targets. We need to continue to accelerate the rate of discovery so kids like Eli have a shot at the cure they deserve,” said Dr. John Maris, Eli’s doctor. 

That’s where you come in. This Giving Tuesday, November 27, 2018, you can help Eli’s dream of a world without cancer come true. Simply donate here or host a fundraiser on your personal Facebook page (we’ve got all the how-to details here.)

In the meantime, keep reading. Eli shares his 13-years of cancer, in his own words:

When I was 4 years old in August 2005, I was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma. Thirteen years later, I’m still fighting every day and I don’t intend on stopping any time soon. 

Since I was so young at diagnosis, I did not really know what was going on. All I knew was that I was going to the hospital so the doctors could look at me and figure out why my leg was hurting. After performing tons of tests and taking lots of blood, they told me that I was sick and had something called cancer. They also said that they were going to do everything they could to make me feel better and help me to not be sick anymore. I knew it was something serious—I could tell from my parents’ reactions. However, I didn’t fully grasp it until I was a few years older. 

When I was about 10 years old, six years after my initial diagnosis, I began to really understand what was happening. At this point, I had done many treatments in my hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas and many more at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I had relapsed multiple times. While at the hospital, I started to think “Hey, I really would rather be with my friends right now,” or would dream of the day I got out of there and went back home. I began to see how my treatment not only affected me but affected my loved ones around me. I began to realize that none of my friends or the other kids went to the hospital nearly as much as me. Still, to this day, I struggle with finding my peers. 

But if there’s anything that came from my experience to be thankful for, it’s that it has made me look at my priorities and my life completely different than I think I would have otherwise. The state of my physical health is quite obvious and easy to determine. I spend more time analyzing my mental and emotional health, which is unfortunately less obvious and easy to determine. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to be part of all the research, trials and fundraisers that all contribute to finding cures and bringing awareness. 

I just started working here at Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation and being in the office is eye-opening. The wonderful thing about bringing awareness and helping out is that anything and everything can make a difference. Whether it be telling a friend about ALSF, going to a fundraiser or donating something, all of that makes a huge difference in the big picture of things. It’s amazing to see the process of everything and see all the hard work that goes into trying to find cures.

ALSF has changed my life forever. It has helped me and my family in ways that I can never be thankful enough for. I hope that by bringing awareness and doing my part, I can help change another family’s life as well. 

About Eli Talley


Eli Talley is 17 years old and interns at ALSF. He was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma in August of 2005. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Eli now lives in Philadelphia. In his free time, he loves to write music, play guitar, watch movies and hang out with his friends.

 

How you can help TODAY:

This year is shaping up to be the biggest Giving Tuesday yet at Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, and you can help take it over the top! We’re asking supporters to consider holding a Facebook fundraiser on November 27th to support the search for better treatments and cures on this day of generosity.
 
Even better, Country Time is generously matching all donations to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation that day. That means every dollar will count double for kids fighting cancer. Sign up and learn more here.