As we recognize Bereaved Parents Awareness Month this July, we’re honored to share Elyse’s story. We thank Jeremy for sharing his daughter’s inspirational journey and raising funds for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s mission by hosting Ride for a Cure in Talladega, AL. Learn more about attending this special event or donate in Elyse’s memory.
When our baby girl Elyse was born in 2013, she was the most beautiful and precious gift we could have ever received. Elyse would always light up any room and our hearts, and her bond with brother Ridge was stronger than anything I’ve ever seen.
Never even having a cold, Elyse was a healthy baby for her first 11 months. But one day we noticed a change in her upbeat personality. We knew something was wrong when she became lethargic and was sleeping more than usual. After many tests and scans, we received the devastating news.
Our baby girl had a primitive neuroectodermal brain tumor (PNET).
In that moment, our lives turned upside down and we had no choice but to face the unfamiliar world of childhood cancer head-on. Before we could even catch our breath, Elyse had emergency surgery to remove the tumor and started chemotherapy.
We were terrified. But not Elyse.
Even as she was hooked up to a port and undergoing grueling treatment, Elyse roamed the halls of the children’s hospital and made everyone smile with her contagious giggles and inspiring strength. It was amazing how strong she was. During that time, she learned new words and how to walk. And I learned so much from her as she blew the sweetest kisses I’ve ever received.
We knew that the odds were stacked against us, but truly believed that Elyse was going to survive. She handled treatment so well, still smiling and giggling without fear. Seven months after diagnosis, we only had one more round of chemotherapy to get through. The light at the end of the long, dark tunnel was within our sight.
Until the tumor returned. Aggressively. Our baby girl Elyse had her second emergency brain surgery, but the tumor was already rapidly growing less than 24 hours later. We kept our faith and traveled out-of-state to begin proton therapy, a relatively new treatment at the time.
Unfortunately, the cancer was too far advanced for the therapy to be effective. After just a few rounds of treatment, Elyse passed away and earned her wings on February 18, 2015.
At that time, we couldn’t begin to understand why our precious angel was taken from us. Today, we honor Elyse’s purpose during her time here and know that she’s still working through us to make the world a brighter place. I’m grateful that her story continues to touch so many hearts, and I’ll keep sharing it to raise awareness and research funds for other children with brain tumors. At only 17 months of age, our amazing Elyse was an inspiration to many — and I’m so proud of her and the difference she’s still making today.
In her memory, I’m hosting Ride for a Cure again this year at Top Trails in Talladega, AL. Happening September 20 & 21, this jam-packed event benefiting the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation will include a 5 Hills SXS obstacle course, motorcycle trials stunt show, Barbie Jeep downhill course, time trials and much more — plus, live music by Fly by Radio and Colt Ford! I would love for you to join us for this very special event or donate to the PBTF in Elyse’s honor.