Family expresses profound thanks to community as daughter Ellie, 2, treated for rare type of cancer

By on March 6, 2018

Ellie Mader, 2, plays with toys at the BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. Her mother Racyne Mader said she has started to talk again since a tracheostomy tube was removed from her neck and she’s laughing and returning to her usual self. Ellie has undergone a round of chemotherapy and another was expected this week. (Racyne Mader photo)

The family of a two-year-old girl suffering from a rare form of cancer is overwhelmed with appreciation for the generosity of the Osoyoos community.

Speaking from Vancouver where little Ellie Mader is undergoing treatment, her mother Racyne Mader said she cried when she learned of the amount raised at a February fundraiser.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “I can’t even express the gratitude we have for our community right now.”

The fundraiser at the Sage Pub on Feb. 23 helped to raise more than $40,000 for the family to help with expenses they’ve incurred while accompanying Ellie.

In addition to Mader, her husband Craig has been in Vancouver with Ellie since the little girl went into the BC Children’s Hospital in late January.

The couple’s parents – Fred and Pam Farinha and Dale and Carrie Mader – have also gone to Vancouver several times, have looked after the couple’s three-month-old son, and provided other support. Mader said they’ve been fantastic.

She said Ellie last week had a tracheostomy tube removed from her neck and was once again speaking a bit. She’d also had one round of chemotherapy and was awaiting further chemo and imaging before a long-term plan would determine what further treatment might be needed.

“She’s just started to talk again,” said Mader, adding that the tracheostomy had to be inserted below her vocal cords because the tumor was obstructing her airways.

“We’re starting to get her up and mobile and she’s laughing again and starting to be her usual self,” Mader said.

The tumor, which developed in her neck and jaw area, is rare in children, Mader said. And it’s also rare that it would be located where it is.

“Typically this kind of tumor would grow in the brain or the kidneys, so it’s even more rare that it’s not in those spots,” said Mader.

The couple first noticed the lump on New Year’s Eve.

“She’s so resilient,” said Mader. “It’s amazing. She has her frustrating moments, but she’s kind of just rolling with it and we’re trying to be as happy and positive as we possibly can be when we’re around her to keep her spirits up.”

The doctors and nurses at the children’s hospital have been fantastic, Mader added.

Ellie was sedated when she had her first round of chemotherapy, but Mader was unsure how Ellie would handle the next round of chemo she was expected to start this week.

The family is now staying at Ronald McDonald House, which makes it easier for them to have their baby son with them.

It’s still too early to talk about the longer term and Mader said they don’t know how long they’re going to have to be in Vancouver for Ellie.

For now, they just want to express gratitude to the Osoyoos and area community.

“I just want to express our thanks to everybody for their love and support and all their generosity,” said Mader. “It’s making it a lot easier to not be worrying about regular adult life back home that doesn’t really stop because of this. Mortgages and whatnot that have to be paid.”

Her mother, Pam Farinha, said she was also overwhelmed by the support.

“We were almost speechless,” Farinha said. “You don’t even know where to begin to thank because everyone just pulled together. It’s unbelievable… We’ve just got the best little town on the planet.”

A GoFundMe page is collecting donations for the family. It can be found at


Osoyoos Times

Ellie was hospitalized in late January after developing a tumor. (Contributed photo)

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