Local girl fights cancer with smile
Sun, 07/22/2012 - 10:01am John Munford
Jessica McElveen of Tyrone met two Atlanta Braves All-Stars Wednesday afternoon courtesy of Braves catcher Brian McCann and the Rally Foundation for childhood cancer research.
McCann and second baseman Dan Uggla mingled with the group of “Rally Kids,” chatting and posing for pictures and, of course, signing autographs.
McElveen, who was diagnosed at age 13 with desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT), said she really appreciated the event. McCann even signed the T-shirt on her back.
McElveen, now 18, just graduated from Trinity Christian School and lives in Tyrone with her parents Pam and Chris Long. At the ballpark Wednesday, she displayed an infectious laugh and a keen sense of humor. You’d almost never guess what all she’s been through in terms of medical treatments.
“I’ve done radiation and a lot of chemotherapy and a lot of biological drugs,” McElveen said. “I do well with the traditional chemo.”
Currently McElveen is taking an oral chemotherapy, and she has been on different treatments with different protocols. She is currently examining a special radiation treatment at Emory University Hospital called SIR-Spheres.
As for the chemotherapy regimens she has been on, the side effects vary, McElveen said.
“It depends,” she said. “Some of them treat me different. Some chemos I do fine on. And the one I’m on now, it makes me really tired.”
What gets her through is the ability to control her attitude, which is incredibly pleasant.
“I try to always smile,” she said, laughing. “And keep busy.”
McCann and Uggla also managed to put smiles on all the faces of the Rally Kids they met Wednesday just outside the Braves locker room before the game.
McCann said it thrilled him to host the Rally kids.
“It brings a lot of joy to have them out here and get away from their daily l
ife and come out here and enjoy a game and see a big league ballpark, and just get away for a little bit,” McCann said. “It’s an honor to help them out.”
McCann also said being able to spend time with Jessica and the other Rally Foundation children meant “everything” to him.
“My wife and I are heavy and deep into the Rally Foundation which raises awareness of childhood cancer and raises money for it,” McCann said. “It’s a good cause.”
McCann, whose son was born last week, said being a new father also gives him a different perspective on the issue.
“Everybody can tell you everything they want to say about when you have your first child but until you actually hold them, it brings a whole new meaning to it,” McCann said.
McCann said he got involved with the Rally Foundation through former Braves pitcher Tom Glavine as McCann and his wife looked for a charity to support as he embarked on his big league career. They had an opportunity to meet some of the “Rally” kids.
“After we met some of the kids, that was basically it. It touches your heart and you find out how it’s under researched by so much. It makes you want to help.”
The Rally Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to using volunteers across the country to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research to find better treatments with fewer long-term side effects and ultimately cures.
The Rally Foundation helps fund research at a number of children’s hospitals and universities across the country, including efforts at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
For more information, visit www.rallyfoundation.org.