MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – It’s been almost a full year since Marshfield teenager Ella James was diagnosed with a rare, but aggressive form of brain cancer.
Ella is a 15-year-old high schooler who was living life through the pandemic just like the rest of the world when she started feeling not like herself. Numerous trips to the doctor’s office yielded no result so she trudged on.
Towards the end of 2020, Ella began experiencing concussion-like symptoms with balance problems, headaches, nausea and blurry vision.
After a CT scan located a mass on her brain, a tumor was removed and the James’ lives changed forever. Ella was diagnosed on January 2nd with an aggressive form of childhood brain cancer called Medulloblastoma.
Ella’s mom, Kim said through it all, Ella has been extremely positive despite the circumstances.
“She’s always been upbeat,” Kim said. “She really doesn’t have anything negative to say very often. It’s all been pretty positive and she just rolls with it. In Milwaukee, she had to do radiation and chemo every day for six weeks. I said if it was me, I’d be crying every day but she just went with it.”
Ella wasn’t alone in her fight as her sister Ayva stepped up to the plate and created a fundraiser with the help of some of her friends to help her family pay for Ella’s treatments. Ayva and her friends created bracelets that read “Fighting to Make Grey Go Away #EllaRose” and were sold at area businesses.
Ayva said her friends were the driving force behind getting the fundraiser started which meant a lot.
“I didn’t even start it, my friends made a group chat without me knowing,” Ayva said. “It was really all them and when I finally had time, I took the opportunity to take it over but it wouldn’t have been possible without their help.”
Ella went through a spring and summer of six cycles of chemo and treatments. Her form of cancer required an aggressive approach in terms of treatment so side effects of those treatments were harsh and took a toll on Ella.
On Sept. 23, Ella was greeted outside of the hospital by family and friends as she rang the bell signaling she was cancer free. Although that was a significant victory in her fight, it isn’t over. Since then, Ella has undergone an eye surgery to eliminate the double vision caused by the tumor, she also has had nausea as a result of the treatments she’s received.
Ella is tasked with getting back to a somewhat “normal” life with a full-time school schedule, driver’s education classes and rebuilding a social life that sickness, treatments and travels to hospitals took a toll on.
Since ringing the bell, Ella has been able to participate in some activities that she enjoyed before her diagnosis like helping her grandma with holiday cooking.
Ella has a follow up MRI on Jan. 10 and doctors will also test her shunt to see if it is needed during a week-long stay in Milwaukee. Her shunt could possibly be removed in the future if it is found to be not needed.
If you are looking to help offset the costs of medical expenses for the family, you can check out more of Ella’s story and donate here.
Ella’s courageous battle with a horrific disease makes her a 2021 OnFocus Person of the Year.
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