Cancer picked the wrong girl.
Recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a form of cancer that affects white blood cells), 16-year-old Canby High School junior, varsity soccer team captain and cheerleader Ellie Shorter says she’s lucky.
Not just because of the strong support network from her family and friends; not just because of her team and community, who have already answered the call to help in any way they can; not just because of her faith, which grounds her and gives her hope and strength.
No, she’s grateful that cancer picked her. Because she knows she’s strong enough to face whatever lies ahead.
“Believe it or not, I’m the lucky one that got diagnosed with this,” Ellie said. “There’s a reason why. And it’s because I’m one of the strongest girls, ever. I live by that, day by day.”
She also sees providence in the strange and unlikely circumstances that led to her doctors catching the illness as early as they did. It started when she was hit while driving alone in her car on the night of Aug. 16.
The other driver was not only drunk, he also fled the scene. Fortunately, there was a witness, and Ellie was able to take a picture of his license plate. He was eventually caught.
It was while receiving chiropractic care and therapeutic massage that she first noticed the lump on her neck. Other symptoms followed, including skin rashes.
Weeks of needle biopsies, ultrasounds, a contrast dye CT scan, blood tests and, finally, a surgical biopsy, confirmed the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Now, Ellie begins the fight of her life, and she’s ready for it.
“I have always been a positive person,” Ellie says. “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.”
Ahead are further scans and biopsies, to determine how far the cancer has advanced throughout her body and to test if it has spread to her bone marrow. The main course of treatment will be chemotheraphy.
Ellie says she has been talking to an older girl, who was also diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in high school (she’s now a student at Oregon State University). The OSU student has been an inspiration to Ellie, and she says she wants to do that for others.
“Something that’s helping me not be scared is that I get to inspire the people around me,” she says. “When I get chemo, I hope I can inspire the other kids, younger than me, older than me. Whoever’s in there, I just hope that I can be the light in that room.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to assist the Shorter family with the cost of chemo treatments, missing work and other care that will be needed on the road ahead.
You can also show your support by joining Ellie’s Army in the stands at Canby High School Oct. 17 as the Cougars take on Lake Oswego, and by using the hashtags #ElliesArmy and #EllieStrong on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For our full interview with Ellie Shorter, tune into Monday’s episode of the Canby Now Podcast.