On October 24, 2019, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) lost a member of our Foundation family. ALSF employee and childhood cancer hero, Elijah Talley passed away at the age of 18.
Each of us at ALSF has a fond memory of Elijah--whether it was listening to him play his guitar or working side-by-side with him at events to raise awareness and money for research. Elijah knew childhood cancer first-hand. He was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma when he was just 4 years old. He fought the disease for 14 years, first at his home hospital in Arkansas. Later, Elijah, together with his parents Dawn and Britt, moved to Philadelphia for treatment at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Elijah dreamed of a world without childhood cancer. Elijah always shared his story so generously, hoping to inspire all of us to continue to fight for children and young adults, like him.
In November 2018, Elijah shared his story with the ALSF blog. Here is Elijah's story, 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.