As she relaxes on Mother’s Day, the day after participating in the May 12 Move for the Kids 5k Run/Walk, Becky Silton will take a moment to be thankful. Thankful for her happy 16-month-old son, Eli, and for the support she and her husband, D.J., have received from family, friends and colleagues since Eli was diagnosed with an inoperable spinal cord tumor last October.
Becky is also thankful for the more than $7,000 in pledges the family’s Team Eli has received so far for their participation in the race presented by Navistar. The event begins at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park, where Eli is currently receiving care, and ends at the hospital’s new home, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago downtown, where Eli’s treatment will continue after it opens on June 9.
“We’re taking part in the race and fundraising to show our appreciation for the wonderful care Eli has received,” says Becky. “I like the idea of contributing to something that will impact as many kids and families as possible for years to come.”
Eli was diagnosed with a diffuse fibrillary astrocytoma, a low-grade spinal cord tumor, when he was 10 months old, after undergoing MRI scans for a spinal anomaly. Pediatric neurosurgeon Robin Bowman, MD, who performed the four-hour biopsy procedure, told Becky and D.J. that although the results indicated Eli’s tumor was low grade and slow growing, it could not be surgically removed because of its location. Instead, Eli would need to undergo weekly chemotherapy treatments for approximately a year to shrink the tumor.
“A tumor was the last thing we were expecting to find,” says Becky, who is an assistant professor of clinical psychology at Loyola University with a background in neuropsychology. “The timing was uncanny, as I was scheduled to give a lecture on pediatric brain tumors to my students that week.”
Eli is followed by pediatric neuro-oncologist Jason Fangusaro, MD at the hospital’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, and is about halfway through his chemo treatments. Because his tumor is classified as low-grade, Eli’s prognosis is good. Becky says she is constantly amazed by how well her son has handled his weekly treatments.
“He’s doing great, thanks to the wonderful care he’s received,” she says. “Kids are very resilient much more so than adults are. In fact, last week after his chemo treatment, Eli went to the nurse’s station and started blowing them kisses. He has a great spirit, and he’s really brave.”
Becky is excited about the opening of Lurie Children’s, whose design incorporates numerous features proven to speed healing.
“The all private rooms will help kids sleep better and will also decrease the risk of infection,” she says. “The improved amenities for families spending a lot of time at the hospital will be fantastic, because if the family feels better supported, they can better care for their sick child. I think Eli and all the other kids who will receive care there are going to love the new hospital.”
By raising more than $1,000, the Siltons qualify for the Give Kids a Hand program. The name of their choosing will be added to a tile on a beautiful mural at Lurie Children’s showcasing the artwork of patients and other children. Learn how you can take part in this special opportunity!