News4Jax has followed 7-year-old Ellie Szabados’ journey through brain cancer over the last three years. Szabados was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer called astrocytoma when she was just 4 years old.
It’s a battle that her family said is nearly over for the little girl.
“She’s done it. She’s battled it. She’s won it. She’s fought it. She’s done everything that she can possibly do to stay here and that’s everything,” said Ellie’s mother, Stephanie Szabados.
Tuesday afternoon, Ellie completed her last chemotherapy treatment. Over the last three years her family has called her “patient, spunky and a fighter,” and now she is getting a new title, “cancer survivor.”
“It sounds like you’ve got lots of energy,” said Channel 4’s Adrienne Moore.
“And pixie dust!” exclaimed Ellie.
“Pixie dust?” asked Moore. “Is that what got you through cancer?”
“And when I am cancer free, I can fly like Tinker Bell!” said Ellie.
Between her “pixie dust” and baby-blue eyes, the 7-year-old has all the makings of a real life Tinker Bell. Ellie has used the feistiness of the Disney fairy to get through 24 rounds of chemotherapy and five surgeries to help her combat the cancer.
News4Jax caught up with Ellie and her family hours after her final chemo treatment Tuesday.
“There’s a recurrence rate for this kind of cancer, so that’s always going to be a fear in our lives. But we really think she’s going to stay in the percentage that she’s beaten it and it’s over,” said Stephanie Szabados.
“I just can’t (express) how much relief there is behind all of this,” said Ellie’s father, Victor Szabados.
“It’s over. It’s been three years of nightmares and praying to God that she didn’t die. Praying to God that she’d flourish and that she’d learn and that she’d be Ellie,” said Stephanie Szabados.
Ellie is dealing with some side effects from her treatment. Her parents explained to News4Jax that Ellie has a little bit of a twitch from the cancer and that she sometimes struggles to retain information.
But those setbacks aren’t stopping her. Ellie said she cannot wait to get back to school with her friends next year. Ellie starts first grade at Timucuan Elementary School in a few weeks. She’s also planning to celebrate her eighth birthday.
While Ellie is now in remission, that doesn’t mean she’ll be a stranger to the hospital. Over the next year she will still have to have checkups every three months to make sure she doesn’t have a recurrence.