September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. At PCFLV, we are committed to spreading the GOLD all year long. However, in September, we truly make it our mission. 30 Days, 30 Stories celebrates the children we know and love and the brave battles they fight and have fought, with their families by their sides. In celebrating these beautiful children and their stories, we hope to inspire you to join us in our mission to SPREAD THE GOLD in September and all year long!
My name is Owen. I am the brother of Ella Grace, who was diagnosed with a cancer called neuroblastoma at the age of 2 and died right before she turned 5. Ella died on February 11, 2013. When she first got diagnosed, I was only five and had no idea what was going on. All I knew was my sister was ok and fine and then one day she wasn't ok anymore. Ella was in the hospital and gone a lot. My mom was, too. I was very confused, I remember feeling scared when Ella was losing her hair. I felt bad because she was a girl and always wanted to braid her hair like my moms. I remember her throwing up a lot and waking up in the middle of the night. Sometimes we had to leave and go to the hospital while I was sleeping. My mom always had bags packed and she checked them every night before bed in case Ella got a fever. Ella couldn't be around germs or go many place so we had to stay home a lot. Mom had to give her lots of medicine. She couldn't go swimming or take a bath because of the tubes in her chest. Sometimes mom would let me help push the medicine in them. Ella was very sick but she always kept playing when she could. I felt bad that she couldn't walk in the end. Mom said the cancer made her leg break. But she had a pink walker that she went really fast with. I missed my mom and my sister when they were gone. I started getting less attention and no one really cared completely about my opinion. At least it felt that way...but then I started having special days where it would only be me and my mom together.
Ella would get really, really sick a lot and then she would always end up getting better . But then one day we were at the Lehigh Valley Hospital and my mom took me in a separate room and told me that my sister was dying. I had had no idea what to think of this and I just started emotionally breaking down. I was so scared and didn't want to believe it. I asked if Ella would live until her birthday so she could turn 5. Mom started to cry and said she didn't think that was going to happen and that we were taking Ella home to be with us. I then started to talk more and hang out with my sister more because I knew I didn't have much time left with her. I remember Ella couldn't get off the couch. She couldn't walk and I couldn't sit with her because it hurt her so much. So I sat on the floor. My Mom brought all her things downstairs. Mom stayed with her down there too everyday and night. One day I came home from school and started reading a book. My sister was on the couch next to me and asked me if I could read it to her. I said sure. From then on, I came home from school and started to read to her.
But one day, my mom called the school and told them I was going to be picked up. They said I was going to picked up by Anne Marie, my sister's favorite nurse. We went home and all of my family was there. My mom was crying, holding Ella in her arms but she told me it was ok. I knew what was happening. My sister was dying. People were there saying goodbyes to my sister. Then I walked over and we sat next to her, I was scared but I gave her the biggest hug I have ever given anyone and started crying, My mom sat down with me and my brother, and we said goodbye. She gave me a hug and then I had to leave. I didn't really believe that was the last time I was ever going to see my sister. Later that night at around 10:30 at night, my dad got a call from my mom saying that Ella died. My dad woke me up hugged me and said that Ella was dead.
Her viewing was very sad. I saw pictures of my family with Ella and there was very sad music playing in the background. I was very proud of my mom for not crying. There were lots of people. Mom put a sparkly glitter tattoo on Ella's face. She put all her favorite things there. Then the funeral rolled around and it was probably the most emotional day I've ever had in my life. I got to go up on stage and spray bubbles out of a bubble gun and dance to my sister's favorite song at the time, "What Makes You Beautiful," by One Direction. After that, we left the stage and we all said our goodbyes to my sister. They then started to pick her up and carry her out of the church. I started crying. I calmed down as they put her in the car. We then got in our limo and went to the cemetery by our house. We slowed down in front of it for her to say bye to our house since she would never be coming home again.
I still feel sad when I think of memories and I kind of feel happy and laugh at some memories. Some things I can completely remember and some I can barely remember. Christmas isn't as happy anymore. I feel sad inside but no one really knows it. Since Ella died, I'm always scared of getting sick, too. I try to be extra careful so nothing happens to me. I hate going to the doctor. I used to not want to talk about it at all but now it helps. I know my mom is hurting, too, but she always makes sure to smile and tell us how much she loves us. We do lots of things to remember Ella and never forget what she went through. We go on special cancer walks and sprinkle glitter lots of places. We have gold ribbons on our house. At certain times during the school year, (particularly during tests), it gets pretty frustrating and you want to give up but then I think about all of the things that my sister went through and she was still the happiest little girl I have ever met in my life and if I give up during a test I think I would be disappointed in me. So, I just keep swimming!!
This was my story about just some of things I remember about my sister having cancer. I know that if Ella didn't die that life wouldn't be as hard or sad. I feel bad for my mom a lot. I wish I could have my sister back and that this never happened. But it did!!!! So please Just remember when you think you have it the worst, read this story or think back to it. My mom tells me and my brother that we need to live our lives with purpose. That being brave and kind is always the right choice. She says we can't let what happened to us make us ugly inside. I try to remember when I'm upset that life is short and how brave my sister was. I hope you do too!!! Thanks for Reading my story!!
-written by Owen, Ella's brother