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Elara Rae August Isagawa was born in Kelowna, BC on April 24th, 2018. To say that she is a very loved baby would be a tremendous understatement. Her parents, Nico and Jessica Isagawa have been over the moon since Elara, their first and only child, was born. Wherever they would go, people would remark not just how beautiful Elara is, but that there is something special about her as well…she just has a magic quality about her. She is a baby that is well loved by her extended family as well, led by her grandparents Candace and Mike Chisholm. Of all the blessings in their lives, Elara is by far the most precious.
All of that was put into jeopardy on Christmas Eve of 2019, when they were given the shocking and devastating news that Elara had a large mass, about the size of an orange, growing behind her tailbone. There were no symptoms or signs except a small lump on her lower back. On December 27th, the family made the trek to BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver to find out what exactly was wrong with Elara. They wouldn't come home until April of 2020.
It turned out that Elara had a cancerous tumor that would require a major surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy, all to take place before her second birthday. As you might imagine, the family was shell-shocked by this news and the anticipation of the process that they would have to endure. The good news is, Elara was the strongest of all of them and went through the entire process with the strength and attitude of a champion. While there were difficult, sometimes heartbreaking moments, Elara never once lost that magical glow she possesses.
During the process, grandparents Mike and Candace became acquainted with Gloria Cuccione and learned about the story of Michael and the foundation he dreamed would change the world. Becoming fast friends, the connection was discovered that members of Elara's team at BC Children's Hospital had also been members of Michael's team. It was further revealed that just two decades before, the outcome for Elara would likely have been much more tragic.
It was the research funded by organizations like the Michael Cuccione Foundation that has led to many groundbreaking insights and techniques to help children like Elara survive such ominous afflictions. In fact, one of the brilliant oncologists told Candace and Mike with humility that they believed that Michael's foundation put Vancouver on the map as a big player in the research of treating and curing childhood cancer.
At the time of this writing, Elara has been home for 2 months, and Nico and Jessica have both experienced their second Mother's and Father's Days, with a unique gratitude they would never have fathomed just a few months before. Elara is thriving and the hope is the cancer will be gone forever.
Candace and Mike are writing a book recounting the story and sharing things they learned in hopes of helping other families that go through similar situations, as they realized that if it could happen to their family, it could happen to anyone. Their goal is that a percentage of proceeds from any sales or speaking engagements resulting from the book will go to the Michael Cuccione Foundation.
The entire family has been forever changed by this ordeal. All except one thing: Elara still has something special about her, that magic quality that radiates exclusively from children like her and Michael. Michael believed that the answers to these medical puzzles are within the children themselves, and that research is the key. Elara's family is eternally grateful for the foundation and proud to be a part of its amazing legacy.