Art is fun!
This month, we celebrate the red, white, and blue with products inspired by artwork from Eli, age 9. Eli was diagnosed with T Cell Leukemia, a rare and typically aggressive form of cancer characterized by uncontrolled growth of mature T-cells (T-lymphocytes), in 2019. He underwent treatment at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital where he remained hospitalized throughout the first year. Being
neutropenic during this time, he experienced frequent fevers and infections. During the initial three months, he required intensive care and had to undergo dialysis prior to starting chemotherapy due to his deteriorating health. Unfortunately, Eli's second year coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and he contracted the virus. His hospitalization lasted for two weeks, and he has since experienced five separate bouts of COVID-19. These repeated instances have posed significant challenges for him, as each occurrence has been particularly difficult to manage.
In June 2022, Eli completed a grueling three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy treatment. However, he continues to grapple with lingering side effects. Both his kidney and liver functions have been
adversely affected, requiring ongoing medical attention. Additionally, Eli has had to undergo the arduous process of learning to walk multiple times due to the toll the treatment has taken on him physically. Persistent bone pain resulting from the extensive treatment remains a constant presence in his life, presenting a daily struggle that he courageously confronts.
Throughout his stay at MD Anderson, Eli found great joy and solace in engaging with the Children's Art Project. Even during his lengthy periods of hospitalization, his dedicated art teacher would make it a
point to visit him, ensuring that he could continue pursuing art. Eli eagerly anticipated those visits, cherishing the opportunity to express himself through art. Even during his outpatient visits to the clinic, he would find the art teacher and join the art table to immerse himself
in creative activities. Despite the transition to virtual platforms, Eli remains an enthusiastic participant in the art classes, actively attending and embracing the opportunity to continue nurturing his talents.
Eli is nine years old and is currently homeschooled due to a series of health concerns related to his treatments. Initially enrolled in school last year, his mother withdrew him towards the end of the year as he repeatedly fell ill. Pursuing art has become an important aspect of Eli's life. He’s fascinated with Play-Doh Air play, a variation of Play-Doh that remains malleable and does not harden. Some of his recent creations using Air play include intricately designed turtle, owl, and
bunny figurines. Eli also loves drawing. In the past year, he discovered the Netflix series "Wednesday" and was so inspired by the characters that he sketched them on his mother's bedroom wall while she briefly stepped away. When not honing his drawing skills, Eli enjoys constructing intricate Lego structures, further nurturing his creativity and manual dexterity.
Eli has had the honor of serving as a representative for MD Anderson at the Houston Dynamo games, showcasing his love for soccer. Prior to becoming ill, he actively participated in the sport himself. In 2019, Eli had the remarkable opportunity to kick the first ball during the Childhood Cancer Awareness game hosted by the Dynamos, and he was able to keep the ball as a cherished memento. Additionally, Eli has played a prominent role as a poster child for the Children's Art Project, a testament to his deep passion for art. His talents were further recognized when he crafted a personalized boot for the boot walk. Despite his health challenges, Eli maintains an unwavering determination to improve so that he can continue pursuing his artistic aspirations.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Children's Art Project. Each month, we’ll provide updates, promote survivorship, and share uplifting stories about what makes Children’s Art Project special.