Elaine came into this world 7 weeks early weighing only 3lbs 6oz on July 4, 1999. As all new parents do with their children, we immediately fell in love with her.
Elaine was an active, happy girl and was able to experience many activities in her short life. She studied piano for 11 years under Dr. Jonathon Brown at the Pelham School of Fine Arts where she participated in music festivals, receiving superior ratings (the highest rating awarded) every year she participated. Elaine cheered in youth cheerleading programs in Helena and Alabaster for six years, meeting one of her closest friends. Elaine joined Alabaster Girl Scout Troop 993 in elementary school. With this group of girls she camped, canoed, rode horses, sold cookies and visited lots of fun places including Savannah, GA, the birthplace of Girl Scouts. Elaine swam on the Pelham YMCA Swim Team for 4 years. Her best stroke was the breast stroke and her favorite pool to swim in was the pool in the Aquatics Center at Auburn University. She loved the Auburn meets. When Elaine was diagnosed with cancer she was a member of the Thompson High School Girls Tennis Team. She has just finished her second year on the team and loved being a part of a school team. Elaine loved spending summer weekends at the lake and the beach. She was able to visit numerous amusement parks and water parks. Elaine participated in every trip available to her so she was able to do and see a lot of things in her short life.
Elaine loved animals. She would have had as many animals as allowed. She was always asking for different animals to keep as pets. In her short life she has had fish, hermit crabs, guinea pigs, hamsters, cats and dogs. Elaine left behind one goldfish, Flipper, that Elaine won at the Shelby County Fair 8 years ago and 3 beloved dogs, Pretzell, Teddy and Lucy.
In the fall of 2014 Elaine was running and working out regularly in preparation for the 2015 Tennis season with Thompson High School. In December, her right foot was bothering her so we had her foot examined by a podiatrist. A physical examination and x-ray determined the foot to be normal; nothing felt any different than the left foot. The podiatrist believed Elaine had tendonitis and recommended new shoes, shoe inserts and rest over the Christmas holidays. Elaine played through the 2015 tennis season. Little did we know that would be her last tennis season. Elaine’s foot was again bothering her at the end of the tennis season so we saw a different podiatrist in April 2015. An x-ray determined the foot to be normal, however a physical exam revealed a mass in her right foot that was not in her left foot. An ultrasound led to a MRI, which lead to a biopsy, which lead to the diagnosis of Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. Additional scans, including a PET Scan, led to a diagnosis of Metastatic Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, as the cancer had already spread to her left shoulder.
The most recent protocol for Metastatic Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma comes from a research study that was completed in 2011. This 54 week protocol includes a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Elaine began this protocol in June 2015. The end of November brought an alternative protocol as the cancer was continuing to spread. In January 2016 Elaine's doctors, in desperation, moved to an experimental treatment. By month's end Elaine’s body would not accept any more chemotherapy so treatment had to be stopped. Radiation worked well but we couldn’t stop the cancer from spreading and we couldn’t radiate Elaine’s entire body. On February 6, 2016 Elaine passed from this earthly life less than 10 months from diagnosis.
Elaine was baptized as an infant at Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, AL. She accepted Jesus as her Savior for herself in the 2nd grade when she was in Sunday School at Mountaintop Community Church. We miss her more than words can say but are extremely grateful for the years that we had with her. We wish God had healed her on earth but trust Him and His plan and timing. We take comfort that because of Elaine, 15 people accepted Jesus as their Savior and were saved at her funeral. We look forward to when we get to be with her in heaven. While we are on earth we cling to the hope that we can see a cure to the cancer that took Elaine and want to do want we can to help find a cure for Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma and the other cancers that are taking children away from their loved ones.