On an early summer morning in 2022, then 3-year-old Elowyn Pollard marched into the radiation room at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI, like a true champion. She was there for her very first round of radiation to begin a rigorous journey to try to save her life.
Just before Elowyn’s second birthday, her parents, April and Justin, realized something was very wrong when their middle child began to experience speech and balance issues. They ventured on a disheartening journey, one doctor after another, trying to determine what was wrong. Finally, on July 29, 2022, an MRI revealed that Elowyn has DIPG.
“You can’t even really explain the feeling when it first happens,” said April Malak-Pollard. “There’s no way to process that your child has terminal cancer and is dying.”
Following an internet search, April and Justin turned to the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation for help. The foundation had recently launched a new program called My DIPG Navigator, designed to help families navigate their DIPG journey. One of the nurse navigators, Lauren Kirages, helped the family seek radiation treatment at Mott and in the fall of 2022 Elowyn began the promising CAR T-cell clinical trial in Seattle.
During these treatments, Elowyn’s own T cells are genetically reengineered to fight her cancer cells and then infused back into her body. By September of 2023 Elowyn completed her 14th infusion.
“We are so grateful for the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation for helping us find the right resources and medical teams for this fight,” said Justin Pollard.
Justin and April also credit the DIPG community and support from people around the world for giving their family the inspiration to fight. The Pollard’s will be attending the 10th annual RunTough for ChadTough Defeat DIPG 5K and 1M Fun Run on Saturday, September 16th in Saline, MI. For the second year in a row, Elowyn will kick off the run as the honorary hornblower, following in the footsteps of Chad Carr, for whom the foundation was named and who passed away from DIPG in 2015.
“One of these children is going to fight this, and that’s where Elowyn is special,” Justin Pollard said. “She’s going to fight harder than anybody you have ever seen before, and if it’s not her, she’s going to lead the way, showing that one of these children is going to be that silver bullet and that cure is going to happen.”