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Infant, family facing fight against cancer

Elsie Swanson

SHERBURN — A pancake breakfast benefit will be held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at Martin County West High School, courtesy of Sherburn Lions Club, for 8-month-old Elsie Swanson of Sherburn.

Elsie, who was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma in October, is the daughter of Evan Swanson and Ryley Becker. The family is facing several rounds of chemotherapy, surgery and other treatments.

Elsie’s mother explained the situation, noting that the news sent a shockwave through the family.

“Elsie has been diagnosed with a rare for of neuroblastoma,” she said. “She was born with a gene mutation that makes her cancer very aggressive, fast-growing and likely to come back.

“When we heard the words, ‘We found two tumors in her abdomen; this is most likely a form of childhood cancer,’ I just screamed. Evan just put his head down and started crying. The next few weeks it felt like no matter how deep of a breath I was taking it’s like I wasn’t getting enough air. My chest was so heavy and my body physically hurt.”

Ryley said she and Evan have since learned to put aside their pain.

“We still hurt but it has lessened, and you quickly learn it’s time to strap your boots on and go to battle,” she said. “I just want parents to know they should trust their gut when it comes to their kids. Elsie was first sent home from the ER and they told me she was constipated. I knew that wasn’t right and drove right to Mankato to get a second opinion. If I would have believed that she was just constipated, we would not have caught it as early as we did.”

Elsie will receive treatment at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis over the course of the next year. She will face six rounds of chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, additional surgery to remove tumors, radiation and immunotherapy. She will make frequent trips to the hospital for the next two years to undergo scans, in addition to requiring daily medication to prevent her cancer from returning.

The benefit will include a silent auction. Donations can be mailed to the Elsie Swanson Benefit at Farmers State Bank in Dunnell.

Ryley said the family is grateful for the support they have received.

“We are so humbled at the kindness we’ve [been] shown,” she said. “From paying for our meal when we go out, to strangers sending the kids Christmas presents over the holidays. The support we have received is indescribable.”

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