ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Ten-year-old Elijah always had music inside of him, but he would not discover his talent until he faced his biggest fear; fighting cancer.
Last September, Elijah was met with a frightening diagnosis. A painful lump on his right knee tested positive for osteosarcoma, an aggressive type of bone cancer. The diagnosis was especially difficult for the 10-year-old who had recently lost his great-grandfather to cancer.
“I just instantly knew that I didn’t want to go through this,” Elijah said. “I sort of broke down.”
But things began to look up when Elijah was admitted to the cancer unit at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
While going through his first rounds of chemotherapy, Elijah’s family recalled their 10-year-old lying in bed, feeling scared and nauseous from the treatments. Just then, a gentle knock on the door.
In walked Music therapist Rachel Beverly with a guitar and an offer; Would Elijah like it if she played music for him? He would.
“She put him in a whole other world of comfort,” Elijah’s mom, Sheena said. “He drifted off to sleep like there was nothing else in the world besides him and the music.”
But that was just the beginning of Elijah’s transformation.
Over the course of Elijah’s treatments, Beverly kept coming back. As the months ticked by, Elijah slowly warmed up to hospital staff. As he neared the end of his treatments, he was happy with his progress but a little sad to leave.
That’s when Beverly came forward with another offer. What if he were to write a song to let people know how he felt?
“At first I didn’t think I could do it,” Elijah told the hospital. “But then we started talking about ideas.”
By the time the lyrics came together and a melody took form, it was time for his big day.
“Bell ringing day in the cancer unit is always special,” Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital said. “A day when a patient marks the end of treatment and the beginning of a new chapter.”
On May 24, family, friends, and staff gathered to cheer Elijah as he rang the ceremonial bell. His very own “Thank You Song” rang up and down the halls of the cancer unit.
“There was not a dry eye,” Sheena recalled. “It was beautiful to hear through this song that my son understood what he had overcome.”
“His strength came through in his song,” she added.
“I just love this place,” Elijah said.