3-year-old girl with terminal cancer gets postcards from across the world
SPANAWAY, Wash. -- A Spanaway girl may be too sick to travel but that's not stopping her from seeing the sights.
Ellie Walton, who turned three in December, is battling stage IV glioblastoma. She was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor at four months old after her mother noticed a lump on her head. The tumor recently mutated, her parents said.
"The state calls [it] terminal cancer," said Sarah Walton, Ellie's mother. "It's not terminal for her, though. She's a fighter for sure."
Ellie has also been through 17 surgeries, including 14 brain surgeries and five tumor removals, Sarah added. She has also suffered from meningitis and septic shock, and endures chemotherapy every other week.
Recently, her parents embarked on a new journey -- soliciting postcards from around the world. The idea began after Ellie's great-grandparents would send notes from trips to Florida and other tropical places, and Ellie found so much joy in learning about far away locations she might not ever visit, Sarah said.
"There's always that in the back of your mind that she may not, um, yeah..." says Sarah, her voice trailing off and growing silent. "It definitely pulls at my heartstrings because it's people praying for the kids and telling her how strong she is."
On Friday, Ellie pulled out a giant shoebox filled with postcards. Roughly 500 have arrived at the family's mailbox since they put the word out about six weeks ago.
There's a brightly-colored card from South Korea. Dignitaries in London recently sent a stack. A stranger zipped one in the mail from the Pancake Pantry, a beloved Nashville restaurant.
'The world has so much to offer you,' reads one sent from Turkey. 'You should be able to travel and see different countries.'
"Not only is it a postcard that shows her a different place, but it also shows her that people believe in her," Sarah said, "and they believe in how strong she is and they know she can beat this."
Postcards have also turned into donations to alleviate the financial burden of medical bills and travels to Seattle Children's Hospital, Sarah said.
The most recent scans actually showed Ellie's tumor shrinking -- something doctors didn't predict, but something that didn't surprise Ellie's parents. They describe her as feisty. A fighter.
"This is hundreds of people that are thinking of her and praying for her and it's awesome," Sarah said. "That's where I find my strength from."
If you'd like to send a postcard to Ellie, her parents have set up a P.O. Box to send them: