A dance and silent auction at the Crescent legion next month is the latest effort in support of a South Surrey youngster who has been fighting a rare skin cancer since the day she was born.
Organizers of the May 14 event – which will feature Peninsula bands O’Hara Lane and The Sutton Brothers – didn’t hesitate to answer the call to help Ellaray Lewis.
“It’s a really good cause,” said O’Hara Lane’s John Hovan, who went to school with Ellaray’s dad, Craig.
“The more I think about it, I’m getting kind of excited.”
Peace Arch News first told Ellaray’s story three years ago, before the precocious tot was old enough to even pronounce the word cancer.
The now-chatty youngster, who turned four Dec. 29, was born with a hairy skin condition – known generally as bathing trunk nevus – that plastered her body with approximately 130 brownish spots. The largest covered her back and tummy right down to the middle of her thighs, resembling oversized shorts.
She also had wart-like tumours in her pelvic area and a tail-like tumour across her bottom that stretched nearly eight inches.
In a small percentage of cases, Ellaray’s included, the condition develops into an aggressive skin cancer that satellites beyond the skin’s surface and into the muscles.
To fight the disease, doctors have operated on Ellaray every 60 to 90 days. The first nine surgeries focused solely on removing the diseased skin and muscles, then stretching her healthy skin to cover the affected area. Nearly two years ago, with little stretch left in her healthy skin, the procedures began to include implanting expansion bags under her skin, in which to grow new skin to replace that which must be removed.
Last month, an infection that developed after one of the bags in Ellaray’s back burst left her in “real bad shape,” Craig told PAN as he waited for Ellaray in a hallway at BC Children’s Hospital.
“Her whole back has turned into a red mess.”
Fortunately, Ellaray recovered quickly, and her treatment journey has resumed. She is due to undergo her fifteenth surgery this month.
“The life of her is just back,” Craig said, noting Ellaray has been happily telling her doctors that she plans to be just like them when she grows up.
Three years ago, Hovan helped organize the first major fundraiser for Ellaray and Craig. All of the proceeds helped ease the financial burden of Ellaray’s journey. Whatever is raised at the upcoming event – also featuring a silent auction – will further lend a hand. Tickets, $20, are available at the legion (2648 128 St.) or through Hovan, at 604-538-4718 or 778-996-4718.
Craig said he is touched by the support.
“It’s so hard to know how to say thank you to everyone,” he said. “I’m knowing in my heart that I’m so lucky I grew up in this town.”