Watching Ellen endure the pain and suffering that resulted from her leukemia and treatment for the disease was the most difficult thing I've done as a mother, and I can't count the times I wished I could have traded places with her.

But 11 years later, I am witnessing the good things that God wrought from the evil of cancer. One of them is Ellen's desire to help people who are ill. She can empathize with them because she traveled the road herself and she knows how much prayers and support from people help lighten the load.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

Within a year of her diagnosis, in June 2008, Ellen began sharing her cancer story and encouraging people to support pediatric cancer research and the health care facilities that care for children with cancer. She has continued doing public speaking and fundraising over the years, and now, at 16, organized an event of her own.

Giving back

A member of the Larimore (N.D.) High School Student Council, Ellen suggested that LHS raise funds for Make-A-Wish North Dakota. She knew that Make-A-Wish, which granted her a wish to see the Santa Buddies movie being filmed, and after the movie, gave her Rosebud, had helped her to heal. Ellen wanted to fundraise so other children and youth suffering from life-threatening illnesses would have an opportunity to experience the power of a wish.

Last month, Ellen, with Rosebud at her side, spoke to the LHS student body about her wish and how much it helped her, not only when we were in Vancouver, but in the days afterward. She told them about how snuggling with Rosebud, her sweet golden retriever, comforted her throughout her two years and three months of cancer treatment and still today is a reminder of the generosity of the people who contributed to make her wish possible.

Ellen encouraged the students to donate to Make-A-Wish North Dakota so other youth could have an opportunity to choose to do something that would give them a chance to have fun with their families and forget, for at least a little while, about their illnesses.


This week, Ellen presented a $1,000 check to Make-A-Wish board chair Pastor Bruce Vold, Hatton, N.D., thanking him for the work his organization does to brighten the lives of sick children and LHS students for their generosity. Vold, whose son was granted a wish from the organization several years ago thanked Ellen for giving back to Make-A-Wish by organizing the fundraiser and to the LHS student body for donating to it.

I never would have wished for Ellen to have cancer, but now I can look back and see that good has come out of it because she opened her heart to God and let Him work through her to help others.

Romans 8:28 says "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." I am looking forward to seeing what purposes unfold in the next chapters of her life.