UNION COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Another gray, cold day. Feels like a good time to warmly introduce the newest one of our #MollysKids… Elizabeth Brooks, a happy Union County 10th grader.
15-year-old Elizabeth was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma in April of 2015. She had a tumor attached to her eleventh rib on her left side. Further tests showed it was also in her lungs. After a rough year (chemo, surgery, radiation), she was declared cancer-free!
It did not stay that way.
"We took a short vacation to the beach," mom Laura Brooks said. "We had a cookout and invited EVERYONE who wanted to come celebrate our girl because though she had some horrible side effects, Elizabeth always smiled at every hospital visitor. We were so proud of her, and praising God the whole time."
Laura paused in her email after typing that. It was almost as if you knew the next paragraph wasn't going to be as positive.
"Everything was good until November of 2016. That's when new scans showed her cancer was back. It had returned to her lungs."
Laura said life stopped upon hearing Elizabeth once again had cancer.
The family started traveling back and forth to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis to receive treatments in a trial drug. In fact, the entire family – Elizabeth is one of four kids – went to Tennessee for the whole month of January and lived in a tiny cabin on a campground.
If that sounds nutty to you, don't let it. They were doing what they had to do. Families of kids with cancer say this all the time: you either split your family apart for long periods of time so one child can get treatment, or you take everyone to another state to live in a cabin and home-school them at a campsite. It's often a choice between not-good options.
"Since February we have traveled every three weeks to Memphis," Laura said. "We're home in Marshville for two weeks, then in Memphis for a week of treatment, then back home for two weeks. So on, and so forth. It has been a long, hard year. Hard on our family and super hard on Elizabeth. However, she is incredible. The treatment is less aggressive this time and has far less side effects. For that, we are grateful."
There is no end date in sight. Treatments will continue through this year and may go into 2018, the family says they just don't know yet. The good news is that Elizabeth's body is responding. The tumors in her lungs are almost non-existent. She had another surgery in September and recovered well.
"We are praying for full healing and for cancer to NEVER return," Laura said.
As for Elizabeth, she loves to be in the kitchen baking, loves watching the show Fixer Upper, gospel music, living on a farm and her family. The picture of the four siblings I'll put below in comments is great – Tanner is the older brother, then Elizabeth, then younger brother Connor and younger sister Heidi.
"It took everyone working together to keep things as normal as possible," said mom Laura. "She inspires us all."
Welcome to #MollysKids, Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing your story with us… please keep us updated as you go.
**Editor's note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there, which is why it's written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all #MollysKids here.**