Five-year-old Elijah was in surgery. Outside, in the waiting room, his mother, Telicia Collick, waited anxiously for word of how the operation was going. All at once a case worker came into the room. “The Davis family?” she asked. Telicia didn’t answer. “I was so distraught,” she says, “I didn’t even realize they were asking for me.“ No matter. Forty people rose to their feet. Friends, relatives, supporters: they were all there for Elijah, proud to count themselves part of the Davis family.
That’s the kind of child Elijah is: he draws you in. Nowadays he’s a bright, engaging twelve-year-old with dark eyes, an infectious smile, and a naturally sweet temperament. As far as Elijah is concerned, everyone he meets in the world is a friend, and the world responds to him the same way. But ever since doctors discovered he had a brain tumor, he’s been on a long journey to combat his disease.
Elijah was visiting his grandparents on the Eastern Shore of Maryland when he first complained of headaches and stomach pain. A CT scan at a local urgent care center revealed a mass on his brain. Subsequently an MRI confirmed a tumor. Soon Elijah found himself in an ambulance being transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital. “It was crazy,” he says. He felt disoriented and lost track of time. A few days after arriving at the hospital, he underwent his first round of surgery. Over the next few months, he received chemotherapy, radiation, and more surgeries. Periodically his treatment required long stays in the hospital. His mom never left his side—except when someone from that large Davis family stepped in to give her a break. Once while he was visiting his grandparents again, he developed an infection. This time he was transported to the hospital by helicopter. “That was scary,” he says. Then he grins. “But kind of fun, too.”
Elijah makes an impact on everyone he meets. While he was sick, friends from school wrote him letters and visited with him by Skype. Players and coaches on the Georgetown Hoyas football team adopted him as a mascot. They visited him in the hospital, gave him footballs, and, when he was feeling better, took him bowling and on outings.
For his part, Elijah always gives back generously as much as he receives. While he was in the hospital, he made friends with the other children and with the doctors, nurses, and staff, too. He’s happy to share his interests in comic books and karate. In the summer he goes to Camp Sunrise where he practices archery, arts and crafts, watches movies, and makes friends with his fellow campers, all of whom have had their own experiences with cancer.
This past spring Elijah took his commitment to help others to a new level when he volunteered to be an Ambassador for pediatric oncology. He spoke at fundraisers and visited local merchants, all to raise more money for research to help children in need.
Elijah’s journey hasn’t always been easy. Through it all, however, he’s retained his spirit, his optimism, and his joyous outlook on life. “What’s your secret?” we ask him. He answers simply with a smile: “I’m still here.” His mother says, “We take it one day at a time.” With the support, she might add, of that ever-growing and ever-caring Davis family.