Ellie Bouchard, 7, celebrated her birthday on Sept. 19 with a princess party, balloons and chocolate-mousse cake. But another party is still on her mind, one that took place far from her Chesterfield County home a year ago this month.
"I remember the no-more-chemo party," Ellie says with a broad smile. "They threw confetti, and it was a lot of fun." That party at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., last November celebrated Ellie's getting through surgeries at VCU Medical Center, then radiation, chemotherapy and stem-cell injections at St. Jude to treat her softball-sized brain tumor.
Yet the party did not end Ellie's struggle with a rare, life-threatening cancer — a supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumor. In April, Ellie's parents, Colleen and Steve Bouchard, learned that Ellie's PET scan showed two small, malignant tumors. After surgery in May, Ellie returned to life in Moseley with her parents, sister Emma and favorite cat, Phoebe. The Bouchards are waiting for April 23, 2013, to throw a mega-party; that is the target date for doctors to declare Ellie cancer-free. "Ellie is one of the lucky ones," Colleen Bouchard says.
Until then, Ellie is telling her story. She did a commercial for St. Jude with actress Jennifer Aniston last year and appeared in magazine and billboard ads with the message "Ellie vs. brain tumor/Let's make sure she wins." This month, she's the honorary chairperson of a local 5K walk to benefit St. Jude's research. The "Give thanks. Walk." event at Chesterfield Towne Center on Nov. 21 is one of 40 nationwide. Ellie is raising funds through her team, Friends of Ellie. To find out more, visit givethankswalk.org.