Amid the sounds of footsteps traveling in and out of a room at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, 9-year-old Santa Clarita resident Elijah Greene lays in a hospital bed playing with his legos.
“It’s non-stop people in and out all day,” Elijah’s mother, Jennifer Greene, said.
The scene is a familiar setting for them both: This is the fourth different type of cancer Elijah has had to battle.
In October 2010, at just 14 months old, Elijah Greene, was diagnosed with three different types of cancer: choroid plexus carcinoma, rhabdomyosarcoma and neuroblastoma.
He underwent treatment and surgery, winning that round in July 2011.
Elijah began the 2018-19 school year as a 4th grade student at Pinetree Community School in Canyon Country.
“He’s missing out on his fourth-grade year,” his mother said. “I’m scared missing out on all of it.”
Elijah was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in August.
“It’s his fourth cancer,” Greene said. “According to the doctors, with his history it can’t be taken lightly. We are scared to start this process again, but it is in God’s hands.”
Osteosarcoma is the most common type of cancer that starts in the bones, according to cancer.org. “The cancer cells in these tumors look like early forms of bone cells that normally help make new bone tissue, but the bone tissue in an osteosarcoma is not as strong as that of normal bones.”
Elijah has a gene called P53, a gene that causes cancer to come back.
“It’s a continuous journey because of this gene,” Greene said. “It’s seven years later, and we’re still here.”
The cancer is in his jaw, his mother said. “(It) started with his gum being swollen; within a month, the cancer (was) back.”
In September, Elijah had a total jaw resection, and they made a new jaw for him from a chunk of his leg.
“The surgery was very, very intense,” Greene said. “Currently, (Elijah) does not have bottom teeth.”
There will be a few more surgeries before he can get teeth, his mother said. “But insurance does not pay for it.”
The Greene family — Alana, Isiah, Kris, Jennifer and a baby on the way — are Santa Clarita residents. Jennifer Greene set up a GoFundMe to help with the mounting bills from Elijah’s medical expenses, gas well as groceries, gas and food.
“All that adds up,” she said. “Everybody is separated.”
Due to the extensive treatment, Elijah and his mother stay down in Los Angeles.
The Greene’s oldest child, Alana, is a student at Canyon High, and their youngest is due in April.
Her mother came to town to help, Greene said. “It’s a lot of stress.”
Jennifer and her husband, Kris, both spend time at the hospital with Elijah during the week, and his siblings and grandma sometimes come down during the weekends.
“He is just a very easy chill kid,” his mother said.
Elijah loves legos, hanging with his little brother, playing outside and doing crafts.
“We keep busy during the day,” she said. “I never leave him while I’m here.”
Elijah is finishing his fourth-grade year while going through treatment.
He has a teacher from the Los Angeles Unified School District who comes in to the hospital to teach him, his mother said.
“He’s gone through so much,” she said. “He is now working through six cycles of chemo.”
Each cycle is a little over a month, she added. “There are three different chemos per cycle, and it totally wipes him out.”
Elijah is continuing to fight the battle, taking it day-by-day with the support of his family.
“We get through each day by being there for him,” Greene said. “This time it’s different. It’s pretty much the worst you can think of, it’s the scariest. I don’t know how to put it into words.”To donate to Elijah’s GoFundMe for medical and other expenses, go to https://www.gofundme.com/bnx5x-elijah039s-dental-fund