Unravel Pediatric Cancer Iowa was proudly founded in memory of Elayna Grace Sandeen of West Des Moines, Iowa.
Elayna was a world-changer. She fought cancer bravely from the time she was diagnosed at age 5, until she passed away at age 9, in 2018. She fundraised for Unravel herself during her treatment because she believed with her whole heart that this organization would one day be part of the answer for kids like her. A breakthrough didn't come in time for Elayna, but her family and community continues to fight in her memory, and in the memory of so many other beautiful children who have died of childhood cancer.
We continue to look ahead with hope to the changes we can make for the children who are still fighting, and who have yet to be diagnosed. It is the goal of Unravel Iowa to help bring necessary funding to those researchers, scientists and doctors who have innovative ideas in the field of pediatric cancer research so that new methods of treatment- ones that are less toxic and more successful for our youngest warriors – can be found more quickly.
So that kids like Elayna get to grow up.
Elayna was diagnosed in April of 2014 (at 5 years old) with stage 3 kidney cancer. We watched our sweet girl's life change in an instant. She had major surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation, and when treatment ended we celebrated remission, but ten months later we were told that she had relapsed. It was the new worst day of our lives. We knew that her treatment would be harder and longer, and that our chances of beating it weren't as great. She had to fight even harder the second time, completing extremely toxic treatment, and again celebrated brief remission. Sadly, we learned in fall of 2016 that she had relapsed again and her fight was far from over. She continued to fight for her life until she passed away at the age of 9, on August 22nd, 2018. We miss her so much.
Watching her fight the third time was excruciating because there was no longer a clear treatment path, and that was directly due to lack of funding for pediatric cancer research. Elayna believed that we need more research and treatment options, and that is why she spent countless hours Fluttering homes by our side. It’s too late to save her, but it’s not too late for so many others. Our young warriors deserve better.
You would think that Elayna would've felt sorry for herself. What she did instead is enjoyed every minute of her life. She inspired so many people. While other children were wishing for toys, she was wishing for a cure for all children with cancer. So am I.
I believe that Unravel can help us cure childhood cancer, and that is why I spend the month of September Fluttering. Please consider donating in honor of children who continue to fight, and in memory of children like Elayna, who are so very missed.
– Elayna’s Mommy