Benefit raises $15,000 for child battling cancer

Wade Littleton\Citizen Tribune

At least $15,000 was raised for the family of Ellison Wilson at a benefit held Friday night at the Sayrah Events Barn in Rogersville.

In East Tennessee, when one is is in a fight, the community rallies to the cause

The Lakeway Area stepped up Friday to help Ellison Wilson as he undergoes chemotherapy for Choroid Plexus Carcinoma at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

The fundraiser, held at the Sayrah Events Barn in Rogersville, raised at least $15,000 for the family on Friday night.

This event featured a car, tractor and motorcycle show, as well as sales of food and a raffle for prizes of varying values donated by area businesses. Dashboard plates were presented to the first 50 auto entrants and three trophies were awarded for each class.

Five bluegrass bands were part of the entertainment as the Rogersville Bluegrass Band, The Stonewalls, Dream Catcher, New Harmony Way and Kenny Stinson & Perfect Tym’n provided music for the patrons’ pleasure.

Ellison, the 10-month-old son of Brad and Jessy Wilson, started having seizures on May 8 at Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City. At that time, doctors there assumed that Ellison was having “infantile seizures,” but a neurologist was not available that day.

On May 11, Ellison was seen by Dana McCoy of Ballad Health Indian Path Pediatrics in Kingsport. She expedited an EEG and an MRI. Doctors at that time were not “too concerned” with the tests. At the time, plans were made to get in to see a neurologist in a few weeks, since that doctor was booked for new patients.

While Ellison was on vacation with his parents to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, they got a call from Ellison’s doctor to come home for an appointment with the neurologist, Dr. Anderson.

Ellison had an abnormal EEG and MRI. The news was not good as Ellison had a rare brain tumor, called Choroid Plexus Carcinoma. The tumor was located in the ventricles, or the center, of the brain.

“He was eight months old,” Brad said. “We were on vacation in Hilton Head and got a call from the doctor and they wanted us to come back the next day for an appointment. That’s when we found out about the tumor.

“We contacted (Dr. McCoy) and she sent information to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. St. Jude’s top pediatric neurosurgeon reviewed Ellison’s file and accepted him as a patient. He was approved for treatment.”

“A consult with Dr. Klimo found that the tumor was only attached by a blood vessel that had to be cut and cauterized to have the tumor removed, resulting in minimal damage to the surrounding tissue,” Jessy said.

The tumor was removed soon after and tested positive for cancer.

“If we didn’t get in at St. Jude, we would have probably gone to one of the Children’s Hospital affiliates in Boston,” Brad said.

According to Brad, Ellison braved the five-hour surgery like a champion.

Ellison was fit with a port in his chest on May 26 to begin chemotherapy on June 1. He was placed under anesthesia to have an MRI of his brain and spine, as well as a lumbar puncture to see if cancer cells have spread to other parts of his body.

“He is cancer-free in his spine,” Brad said. “There was a tiny speck in his brain where the tumor was, but the doctors think that was just some old blood clot. Everything came back great. Prayers are being answered.”

Brad and Jessy are hoping that further testing will not show the P-53 gene, which could lead to future tumors anywhere in Ellison’s body.

“Just keep praying that the genetic testing will come back clear,” he said.

Ellison will have six rounds of chemotherapy to begin with, lasting six months. Jessy will stay with Ellison due to the COOVID-19 health mandate with Brad traveling to Memphis on the weekends.

As of June 25, Ellison has completed his first round of chemotherapy.

According to information provided by the family, Ellison had methotrexate for 24 hours, then stayed in-patient for five more days , then got a seven-day break to begin round one, part two treatment three chemo which consists on etoposide both days, carboplatin on day two and cyclophosphamide on day one.

He had his first blood transfusion, which was a little rocky to start, then pepped back up some, started feeling rough again and retaining fluid but luckily he worked through it and is now outpatient for daily lab draws to keep check on his counts which are extremely low right now, but it’s to be expected.