by: Sarah Lively, web producer Updated:
CONCORD - Nine-year-old Elijah has been active his entire life. His mom, Becky, said he enjoys spending time outside riding his bicycle and scooter. He was also very active in Odell Rec League, playing baseball and basketball.
About 10 months ago Elijah began complaining that his neck was hurting.
“I assumed at first that he slept wrong or that maybe he pulled a muscle playing sports,” Becky said.
After a month of complaining, she took him to the pediatrician, who said Elijah was having muscle spasms. He was referred to an orthopedist, who gave the same diagnosis. Elijah started physical therapy for what they thought were muscle spasms, but still woke up every night in pain. This continued for months.
On May 22 Elijah asked his aunt if she saw anything on his neck. There was a knot the size of a golf ball. He was taken to the emergency room, where doctors initially said he had an inflamed muscle. They did an MRI later in the day, and told Becky that her son had cancer.
“They didn't candy coat it or anything. At that moment my world stopped. I remember screaming, crying, throwing up. Everything just stopped. I wanted to stop,” Becky said.
Elijah was sent to Levine Children’s Hospital, where he underwent numerous tests. Doctors determined he has epithliod sarcoma. According to Becky, there have only been 500 cases of this rare cancer since 1970. Elijah is the only child ever to have epithliod sarcoma in his neck.
He has started an intense treatment plan: radiation for five days a week and chemotherapy for seven days a week until July 22 as doctors try to shrink the tumor. Near the end of August, he will have complete neck reconstruction. The surgeon will remove vertebra from Elijah’s neck in order to remove the cancer, which doctors said has formed a dumb bell around his spinal column.
Doctors from Levine Children’s Hospital have sent Elijah’s scans off to Emory, and the Cleveland and Mayo clinics. They told Becky they would seek additional opinions if necessary.
“I’m still praying for a miracle,” said Becky, who hopes the chemotherapy can eliminate the tumor.
His family started a Facebook page, Prayers for Elijah, and has received an outpouring of support. Over 3,500 people have liked the page that started in late May, and Becky posts updates regularly on how Elijah is doing and the ways he is receiving support.
Elijah has received prayer quilts from churches, support from friends and local schools. He also has two chemo angels, who are based out of Texas. Elijah is a big WWE fan, so they have sent him figurines to lift his spirits.
A golf tournament is scheduled on Aug. 3 in Skybrook to raise money for Elijah’s treatment. Click here to learn more information on how to sign up by July 15.
The Duke Energy Building was lit up yellow on Friday night to bring awareness of sarcoma.
“Thirty-three days ago I had never heard those words before and I'm sure half of America hasn't either,” Becky said.
She’s simply trying to let Elijah be a kid right now. Doctors said after his neck surgery he will not be able to play sports.
“The outpouring of support we have received has been unbelievable and overwhelming,” Becky said.
Anyone interested in sending a card to Elijah can mail it to P.O. Box 5011, Concord, NC 20827.