Carson Elizabeth died of osteosarcoma, but her legacy looms up with donations to the research hospital
TOLEDO, Ohio – There are memories of Carson Elizabeth her mother Paula will cherish forever.
“Her dad says she’s just like her mom, she’s spunky and lively and she’d tell it like it is,” she said. “She had big, wide, bouncy curls, and she had Chinese blue eyes.”
The family lived a normal but fast life in Memphis.
“We drove to every ball game and every workout. My kids played every known sport,” said Paula.
In Memphis, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital towers over the skyline as a sure-fire home and Danny Thomas’ promise that no child would die at the beginning of life.
“We drove past St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and I would say,“ It’s such a great place, but I don’t know anyone who goes there. I wonder which families go there? Paula said. And then one day we heard, ‘Your child has cancer,’ and we went there. ‘
The family’s life was unexpected and abruptly shaken up by cancer. A few days before her eighth birthday, Carson was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive cancer.
“That poor doctor, I had a fight with him. (Said) I don’t know how to pronounce or spell that and you’re wrong because can’t you look at my daughter, she’s okay. She just has a swollen knee, ” she said. ‘And he said,’ I’ve already called St. Jude, Paula. They are waiting for you. ”
The doors of St. Jude are always open, for every child and for every family. And always free, so the focus remains on the family and the children.
“We were in total denial. I had to have him write it down because I didn’t know how to spell it. I had never heard of osteosarcoma,” said Paula. ‘Now I know more about it than I ever want to know. Every year she gets one in 400 people in the world who gets osteosarcoma. ‘
Some of the world’s most difficult childhood cancers are treated at St Jude. This was Toledo’s Danny Thomas vision. Groundbreaking research, clinical trials and world-class treatments take place every day around the clock on the St. Jude property.
“We went straight to the MRI, right to a biopsy, and before we could even walk back to the other side of the hospital, they had results,” said Paula. “And that night we had chemo drip, less than 12 hours from when we got there, we had a definitive diagnosis, she already had surgery and we did chemo that night.”
All medical care, treatment, travel, and housing were free and provided by St. Jude.
‘Osteosarcoma is a mean beast, it’s a monster. Her tumor was above her kneecap and when they removed it, it was bigger than a grapefruit, ”Carson’s mother recalled.
Cancer spread to Carson’s lungs. Treatment, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy were not enough to overcome the rapidly spreading cancer.
“She had 36 weeks of chemo that she could never finish; double chemo because osteo was so strong.
Hope and courage come from a child. During the 16 months of treatment, Carson quietly and without explanation, regularly collected change from anyone she could while in St. Jude. All safely stored in her piggy bank for a very special purpose.
“” I want you to promise me “- and she shook her pinkie at us -” I want you to promise me that when I’m gone the money in my piggy bank will go to St. Jude. ” And I said I promise, “said Paula.” And she said that because it’s my money that’s going to make a difference. And she never said for the kids like her, she said it’s for the moms and dads like you guys so you don’t have to go through what you had to. She died two days later. “
The total in her piggy bank was $ 128.56.
“That’s a child’s faith, that’s St. Jude’s hope, that’s my blessing, and that’s her legacy that lives on after she’s been gone five years.”
St. Jude has increased the overall childhood cancer survival rate to over 80 percent, but aggressive and rare cancers still claim far too many lives.
“But if it’s your child – the 20 percent that’s unacceptable. More research needs to be done. There needs to be something that can be done for those kids who are one in five,” Paula said.
In memory of Carson Elizabeth, Coins for Carson continues in her memory, raising nearly $ 1 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in just a few years.
“That’s why St. Jude is here today, because of the survey, because it’s not acceptable until we get to 100 percent. And it will never be acceptable. ‘