In March 2012, when he was 5 months old, Eli was found to suffer from pineoblastoma, a maligant brain tumor that arises in the region of the pineal gland, which regulates the wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions.
Eli’s fontanelle was swollen and looked like a bruise on the top of his head. His worried parents took him to the hospital where the staff found something suspicious. An MRI revealed a mass and the doctors did a biopsy. Then, they had to tell the parents the horrifying news.
Eli’s mother remembers the call from Eli’s dad. “We need to go to the hospital,” he told her. “Eli has a brain tumor.” “I just sat there and cried and cried,” she said. “I couldn’t even move. It was devastating. I was so scared he was going to die.”
The family packed their car the next day and drove to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. By the time they got there, Eli’ tumor had almost doubled in size. His doctors went to work right away.
Eli began a treatment plan that included months of chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumor and proton beam radiation therapy to kill the last malignant cells of the cancer and ensure it would not grow back.
There was a scary moment after Eli’s surgery. Eli’s parents worried that he had lost his happy spark. “We were very afraid his personality would change after the surgery, and for a couple of days, he didn’t laugh,” said Eli’s mom. “He didn’t smile at anyone. So we were like, ‘Oh no, is he gone?’ And then his older brother, Jude, came in, and he lit up.” Eli is back home now and cancer free.