It didn’t seem right that Elijah Seritt was sick all the time. Yet, doctors kept telling Gary and his wife that their toddler was fine. He gained some strength from IV fluids after visits to the emergency room. But he never fully recovered.
In October 2008, when Elijah was 19 months old, he was barely breathing when the Seritts rushed Elijah back to the emergency room. At the couple’s insistence, Elijah was given a CT scan which revealed the root of young Elijah’s problem – a mass in his brain.
The Seritts were rushed to Children’s of Alabama, where Elijah underwent surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible and to get a definitive diagnosis. Lab results confirmed that Elijah had a medulloblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. The odds of survival were stacked against him.
“As weird as it sounds, we were relieved to finally know what the problem was and what our options were,” Gary says. They were willing to do anything to save their son’s life, and for the next year they waged an aggressive war against the disease. In that time, Elijah under went 17 surgeries – including two brain surgeries. He also received chemotherapy and had two stem cell transplants. “And we hunkered down and prayed,” Gary says.
The brain surgeries removed about 90 percent of the tumor, but because the mass had weaved into Elijah’s brain, a portion of his cerebellum had to be removed. It throws off Elijah’s balance and fine motor skills, for which he receives physical, speech and occupational therapy at Children’s. He also was given a small walker to assist his walking.
“He’s had a lot of therapy, and it’s been a long row to hoe for about two or three years,” Gary says. “But he’s good now, thanks to Children’s.
Elijah is full of personality and never meets a stranger. “He just loves people,” his father says. He also loves UAB Blazer basketball, and late last year he was adopted into the Blazer family. He visited with teammates, who said they were inspired by how Elijah beat the odds. The Blazer’s coach said the best picture in here is that there’s a walker over there that’s lonely. “We were told he might never walk unassisted again, but Elijah’s beaten the odds,” Gary told reporters during Elijah’s visit with the Blazers. “And now, he’s running all around the court.”