September 1st: Elizabeth Brooks. The cycle continues. Welcome to Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.

September 1st: Elizabeth Brooks. The cycle continues. Welcome to Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.
Elizabeth Brooks (Source: Brooks Family)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) -

September 1st:

Elizabeth Brooks. Sixteen years old in Marshville, Union County. You can’t help but love her. Check that smile. Elizabeth’s roller-coaster life story the past four years is kicking off our September of #MollysKids because the hard truth about this beautiful girl is she’s about to start her 22nd round of chemo.

Since May. Her 22nd round since May.

Elizabeth is fighting Ewing Sarcoma and has been since April of 2015. She was 12 when first diagnosed, and I feel lucky to have met her back then. (Will post a few past pictures in comments.) At that time, Elizabeth had a tumor on her 11th rib left side; testing showed cancer in her lungs as well.

Since then Elizabeth has had tough treatments, multiple surgeries, and full-lung radiation.

But the part that gut punches you?

Hearing news Elizabeth has relapsed twice. “I don’t even know how many treatments she has done all together since 2015,” mom Laura said. “I just know it’s a very large number.”

We always say cancer doesn’t define a kid. It doesn’t. Elizabeth is a “normal” kid facing an abnormal situation she didn’t ask for and doesn’t want. So at 16 years old, there’s lots about her just like any other teen. She has her driver’s license. She enjoys getting to do things with her friends when she can, and babysit her little cousins. She’s in her senior year of high school.

What’s different is that because of her chemo schedule -- one week on, two weeks off, one week on -- she’s working on her senior year at the same time as she’s finishing up her junior year.

“Weeks of chemo make it very hard to do school because she gets ‘chemo brain’ and can’t do much at all,” Laura said. “We’re thankful we home school because that makes it easier to do at her pace.”

Home schooling also lets Elizabeth do schoolwork while traveling back and forth to St. Jude Hospital. Two weeks ago was her latest trip to Memphis.

“They show everything is stable,” Laura said. “Stable is good. Stable means no new growth. No surprises. All her scans the past two years show the same thing: No new growth... but no reduction either. It looks like our next steps will be to add five days of targeted radiation to the 3-4 spots in her lungs that have remained PLUS chemo at the same time. We need these tumors to shrink.”

It’s all pretty new information. Laura said they’re still trying to figure out if they’ll do the radiation in Charlotte or Memphis but they do know one thing: They are a family of faith. That doesn’t waver. They’re been tested and tried and continue to fight -- with Elizabeth’s amazing attitude leading them all.

“We are praying targeted radiation along with chemo will knock this nasty stuff out once and for all,” Laura said. “Elizabeth sure would like to do life again without all this stuff. It has been a long four years, but we still trust. God shows himself time and time again.”

#MollysKids

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**NOTE**: These 30 September #MollysKids stories highlight REAL kids in our community who battle. The stories are meant to be shared and educate about pediatric cancer, as they have every September since 2013. This year I’m also encouraging you to comment below with a message. Not to me. Please don’t write me. Write the family. Say something to the child. Today, it’s Elizabeth. Maybe consider it like sending a handwritten card, only easier. The families will read your words. Promise. They don’t and won’t think you’re a stranger. In fact, you’ll represent hope. You are support. Cancer can feel like an island – let them know you are present. The Good, the Bad and the Always Real. Right? Every post. Every day. Thank you.

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