Ellie Shorter, the Canby High School junior soccer captain whose courage, grace and dignity in her battle against cancer united and inspired a community, has completed her recommended treatment.
Surrounded by loved ones at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland Friday, she received her sixth and final round of chemotherapy. Next up is a PET scan Monday to see how successful the chemo was and determine if any cancer cells are still present.
“Our hope is that the chemo killed all of it,” her mother, Jennifer Shorter, said. “If there is any cancer at all visible, Ellie will begin radiation treatment to kill whatever is still there.”
Her family expects to have the results back by New Year’s Eve.
Ellie was diagnosed last September, just a few weeks after surviving a late night hit-and-run collision with a drunk driver. It was while receiving therapeutic massage in her recovery from the accident that she first noticed the lump on her neck.
Weeks of needle biopsies, ultrasounds, a contrast dye CT scan, blood tests and, finally, a surgical biopsy, confirmed the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The recommended treatment: a grueling course of chemotherapy across several months.
Ellie was in for the fight of her life, and she was ready to prove what she already knew: Cancer picked the wrong girl.
“I have always been a positive person,” Ellie told the Canby Now Podcast in October. “I always like to see the bright things. I know there are going to be days I feel weak, but I’m a fighter. I’ll get through it.”
Through it all, her family, her friends, her team, her school and her community has been behind her. A GoFundMe campaign raised over $16,000 ($6,000 more than its original goal), while a Cornhole for Cancer event at the Antonia Ballroom in November brought in more than $30,000.
Support for the Shorters has also come from the sale of hundreds of #EllieStrong T-shirts, sweatshirts and stickers; a hugely successful soccer clinic for local girls that was held in October at Canby High; the Taste of the Season Food & Beverage Show at Cutsforth’s on Nov. 7; among others.
The outpouring of support was “so overwhelming and generous,” Jennifer said.
“Both my husband and I have grown up in Canby and have a tribe of friends that went above and beyond to help our family,” she said. “Both of Ellie’s soccer teams helped organize fundraisers, as well as other businesses in Canby that we have a close personal connection and relationship with.
“We are proud of our community and feel proud of the connections we’ve built through the years and feel completely loved and supported and feel so incredibly thankful.”
Her daughter’s supporters call themselves “Ellie’s Army,” and they’ve made good on the promise printed on the T-shirts and sweatshirts that have painted the town purple for the past few months: “We Fight Together.”
“Ellie’s army has been so amazing showing an overwhelming amount of support,” Jennifer said. “We are so thankful for everyone!”
It hasn’t been easy, of course. The fear and uncertainty of the diagnosis, the physical and emotional trauma of chemo, the loss of her hair, the stress of a junior year of high school that has turned out very differently than she would have ever imagined.
“Grace, courage and determination,” Jennifer said, when asked how her daughter has handled the ordeal. “As heartbreaking as her diagnosis has been, we couldn’t be more proud of how she’s handled herself.”
Grace, courage, determination and even a joy that she has refused to give up, as this amazing shoot by Haley Graham Photography clearly shows.
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