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Ellen's Battle With Cancer


In March 2005, after having an X-Ray and MRI, our 12-year-old daughter, Ellen Davis is diagnosed with an aggressive type of bone cancer, called Osteosarcoma. To verify the diagnosis, the surgeon assigned to us performs a biopsy using a very long needle to remove a small piece of the tumor, without local anesthetic, from her right knee or femur bone while her dad holds both of her arms down during the procedure. It is confirmed that the tumors have also spread to her lungs.


The week after diagnosis, the surgeon installs a portacath beneath the skin in Ellen’s chest. This ‘port’ allow nurses to administer chemo and draw blood samples many times, usually with less discomfort for her than a more typical "needle stick". The oncologist recommends many 4-day sessions of chemo, which he once described to us as ‘basically poison’, to reduce the size and the amount of tumors in her body. The chemo starts and so do the hair loss, the vomiting, and the weight loss. When she was well enough the surgeons removed the tumor on her femur and about 6 inches of bone in her leg. The doctor inserted a prosthetic knee, which Ellen had to relearn how to walk by going to physical therapy.


Before the surgeon operated on her left lung, Ellen went for more chemo to reduce the size and the amount of tumors that were there. There were so many, that the doctor had to remove half of her left lung along with the tumors. This procedure was very difficult and painful for Ellen to recover from, but she pulled herself through it. By Halloween, Ellen was 50 lbs. lighter but she felt well enough and excited to shop for a costume to wear. She chose the Fairy Costume that is seen on the Ellen Davis Band Award plaque displayed at Summit Hill Jr. High School in Frankfort, Illinois.


November 2005 Ellen went back to the hospital so the surgeon could operate on her right lung. He removed a little more than half of her right lung along with the tumors but the doctors concern was that she probably would not make it because they did not think that she could breathe on her own. Painful as it was, she again pulled herself through it. She now breathed through half of a left lung and half of a right lung.


December was such a wonderful time for us because Ellen finished her chemo treatments and the tumors are gone. Her friends and teachers wanted so much to see her before Christmas break and asked her to attend the Summit Hill Band concert. Ellen felt so welcomed and missed by her band mates and friends that she forgot about what she endured up until this time. The holidays brought happiness to our doorstep as we happily decorated our house and Christmas tree. We celebrated how well she felt and how well she looked; her hair was starting to grow! In fact, her hair was longer than her cousin’s crew cut! She was breathtakingly beautiful!


January 3, 2006 Ellen’s fever is 101.9. Tylenol did not help and she is admitted into the hospital on the 5th of January. We spend almost a week talking to different doctors and going through tests to figure out the cause of the fever. What the doctors found was that the tumors were so aggressive that they started to grow again and this time they were around her heart and are inoperable. Our hearts were shattered with the overwhelming news that all we could do was cry. We could do nothing for our daughter but bring her home and arrange for hospice care.


Ellen’s tumors continued to grow, and were seen on her back near her spine. She passed away on March 12, 2006 at the age of 13.


(Awards and Scholarships are in Ellen’s memory. Please click here for information regarding them.)