Friday, August 31, 2012

Meet Ella.

Photos taken by Katie Van Gheem
 Isn't she lovely?
Isn't she wonderful?
Isn't she precious?
Less than one minute old
I never thought through love we'd be
Making one as lovely as she
But isn't she lovely, made from love

Isn't she pretty?

Truly the angel's best
Boy, I'm so happy
We have been heaven blessed
I can't believe what God has done
through us He's given life to one
But isn't she lovely, made from love?

~ Stevie Wonder

This is Ella.

Ella is the beautiful, funny, spunky, brave daughter of my friend Katie. And from what I know about Katie, it is obvious where Ella inherited these qualities. Katie and her husband are talented professional photographers. Katie took all of these stunning pictures and you can see more of the work they do here.  In addition to sweet Ella, they also have an empathic, happy, and caring son named Josh. The only thing more breathtaking than pictures of Ella are pictures of her and Josh together.

Interestingly, I've never met any of them in person. We have connected through this blog community. Yet, still, I consider myself a friend of the Van Gheem family. Today I am hoping that you will become a friend, too.

Ella was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) exactly two years ago to the day on August 26. Since that time, Kate has chronicled this journey through words and photography. I have no idea how I found my way there. But I am so happy that I did.

Did you know that September is Childhood Cancer Month? Well it is. And just in case you want to do something or if perhaps the sweet twinkle in Ella's eye above has moved you in the deepest parts of your soul, you can put your passion into a donation to Ella's page for the upcoming CureSearch Walk where she lives.

The facts about cancer in children suck. Every day, 36 children are diagnosed with a childhood malignancy and 7 of these children will not survive. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children. Though the cure rate is now 78% – up by 40% in the last 20 years – that's not good enough. The goal is a 100% cure rate. Period.

Yesterday, I was at a reception for newly promoted faculty members. I mixed and mingled with other Emory physicians from all over the institution and, at one point, met one of our pediatric Heme/Onc specialists whose expertise happens to be bone marrow transplantation. For those who don't know much about BMT, just know this: the patients go through a whole, whole lot. Essentially chemo is given to wipe out things in the bone marrow. Then the transplant is given to build back a healthy replacement. Wiped out bone marrow equals infections and lots of vulnerability in this patient population.

So was does this mean? It means that the physicians like this woman put their entire hearts into what they do. Just like the parents and families like the Van Gheems do.

I guess knowing Ella and Kate made me think of this chance meeting with a pediatric BMT expert differently. She was talking about how busy her service was and how she felt tired. I wanted to hug her and thank her for fighting the good fight for children like Ella.

I almost did. But figured it would be weird to do that over hors d'ouvres and Malbec.

It's the day before the start of Childhood Cancer Month. And in honor of all of the fighters -- the patients, the mamas, the daddies, the siblings, the nurses and the doctors -- I just wanted to put them all in your heart, thoughts, prayers, and minds. 

Yes. This is Ella. And she is a fighter who is winning.

Isn't she lovely?

Happy Friday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .Isn't she lovely as sung by one of my favorites--Mr. Steveland Morris aka Stevie Wonder.


  1. Happy to throw a punch in this fight... and when I can't throw anymore punches, I'll talk a whole lotta smack!

  2. Beautiful girl. Prayers for her family and doctors.

  3. She's a doll. I think I remember reading about her family somewhere in bloggyland, and I sure do hope and pray that she gets better.

    I spent six weeks during my senior year in high school at Emory in the children's cancer clinic. I had a friend who had cancer and wanted to see what she dealt with. At seventeen, and in 1980, it was a powerful and painful experience that never left me. My friend died two years after that, and she has never left me either. I draw strength from the memory of her life, and from the children I witnessed at Emory duking it out with that hideous disease.

  4. Go Ella!! Not only are you beautiful, you're spunky to boot - a true rockstar!

    There's not a single person I know whose life hasn't been touched by cancer. All of us are going to work together and sucker-punch cancer out of the stratosphere. 100 percent cure rate.Period. Slowly and steadily, we'll get there.

    -- Tara

    PS: Katie, these pictures are gorgeous, you've captured the light inside Ella - I couldn't help but be mesmerized by her!

  5. Thank you so very much for posting these and helping to bring Awareness to our littlest fighters. I really appreciate all your kind words about Ella and our family! Next time you see that BMT Doctor- you can hug her for me :-)
    You all are welcome to share any of these photos!
    Thanks so much Dr.M!

  6. YES! She is SO lovely, wonderful, and precious! All my prayers and love go out to you ELLA and the whole Van Gheem family.


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