collage of photos of the real Ellie and from Ellie the Brave, Bald FairyMy granddaughter Ellie’s battle with cancer began nearly two years ago. After being diagnosed with Stage 3 Wilms cancer, she had surgery to remove the tumor and a kidney. Surgery was followed by radiation and chemotherapy, which was difficult for her to handle physically and emotionally. She felt ill, lost her appetite, and began losing her hair. Then, Ellie asked for a drawing of a cute bald fairy and the seed of an idea for a children’s book was formed.
I remember it was in January when we noticed her loss of hair. Her beautiful golden strands were thinning, and my daughter had to explain to her little girl that she would lose her hair. As such a positive and strong seven-year-old, Ellie said, “Oh, my hair is on vacation.” This comment made me smile as it was from a book, My Hair Went on Vacation, that I had just read to her.
Shortly after that, Ellie came to visit one weekend. After breakfast, she disappeared into my dressing room, emerging with one of my wigs. Yes, at times, I wear wigs when I just want to feel like I have more hair, lol. It started years ago when I lost a lot of my hair quickly after surgery. When I put on my first wig, I felt beautiful – so I understand a little bit.
Ellie wanted to try them all on. I showed her how to wear, brush, and position them on her head. Knowing these wigs were made for adults, she still loved them. She found the longest and curliest one and danced around in it, then pleaded with me to take pics and videos of her posing. Ellie beamed the moment she put it on. She was a different girl.
Ellie wore that wig all day. We decided to go for a walk downtown. Before we left home, she said. “Avo: What do I say if someone says something about my hair? Like – how long did it take you to grow it?” I said, “Just smile, and you don’t have to answer everyone’s questions, honey, but be polite.” She wanted to be sure it didn’t look like a wig.
Sure enough, the clerk in the last small gift shop said boldly, “Well, that’s a girl with a lot of hair.” Ellie smiled, and I did too, and I changed the subject with the clerk.
Ellie’s own hair is growing back slowly but slower than she would like. She had really lovely, long, straight but full hair like her mom before chemo. It’s coming back curly with lots of body. Her mom is a hair stylist with thick, lovely hair like I had when I was younger. I imagine, at times, it’s hard for girls to be around others with the kind of hair they either had once or wished they had.
Ellie the Brave, Bald Fairy is a book that comes straight from my heart and is inspired by my brave, amazing granddaughter. I want Ellie, as well as all other children battling an illness, to have a character they can relate to. Ellie the fairy is having a hard time due to losing her hair and magical powers. You will follow her journey as she finds the strength and courage to save her village when she is needed.
Today, as I look forward to spending time with my granddaughter on Thanksgiving, I am so grateful she is doing so well. Today, Ellie is cancer-free. The joy I feel when I see her beautiful smile is overwhelming. I give thanks every day for the strength and courage she found and for all the doctors and nurses who participated in her treatment.
Ellie and I hope this book will comfort and give hope to children fighting cancer and other illnesses. It will also help continue the fight to find a cure for childhood cancer. A portion of the proceeds will be contributed to the research needed to combat cancer, the number one death by disease for children in America.
Ellie the Brave, Bald Fairy, will be released on November 14th, 2023, and is now ready for pre-orders! Visit the Ellie the Brave, Bald Fairy website today to learn more!