Eli "The Eliminator"
12.03.2004 - 08.05.2017
Eli, “The Eliminator,” fought medulloblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, for almost six years. Diagnosed just weeks after his seventh birthday in 2011, he battled three relapses and lived under a terminal diagnosis for four years. There is no cure or standard treatment for relapse. During his journey, he had had six brain surgeries, two rounds of blanket radiation, survived two-plus years of two different protocols of high-dose chemotherapy, two years of participating in four experimental trials. He battled back from sickness and debilitating symptoms from those treatments and surgeries. He endured countless blood draws, weeks of hospital stays, hundreds of scans, countless transfusions, countless doctors appointments, traveled thousands of miles to and from hospitals, was sent home for hospice care three times, until the fourth and final time. Eli passed away at 12 years old on August 5, 2017. Even with this horrific history, Eli’s road was relatively easy compared to most cancer kids in his same situation. As a pioneer in pediatric cancer research, Eli donated tumor tissue, fluid samples, and vital data was collected through his participation that will change the landscape of treatment for other kids.
Eli was a shy, quiet little guy, the third of four children in his family. Four of those years he was terminal. His family has been and continues to be faithful to the church at Madison Church of Christ since his birth. Although he was a registered student at several schools throughout his treatment, he identified himself as a student with Athens Bible School along with his three siblings. He lived all of his years in Athens, Alabama, although because of his time in treatment he spent many months away from home.
A cancer life was pretty much all he knew. However, cancer did not define him. If asked to describe himself, it is doubtful that he would even mention cancer even though it dictated his and his family’s lives. Instead, he would likely talk about cars, specifically Ford Mustangs or F-150s. Or, he would mention toys such as Lego bricks or Transformers. He might talk about cartoons like Spongebob, or how interested he was in law enforcement or sharks.
He was a simple-minded, low-maintenance kid (minus the demands of cancer treatment), agreeable more than most kids and more than most adults. Eli’s gentleness and agreeability under extreme duress was an encouragement to others. We can never know the true impact or reach of Eli’s life due to God’s control of it and direction for it. It is for these reasons, we wish to honor him in a way that highlights his interests while embodying the spirit of his journey.