The first time she was on a bus heading towards Franklin Regional.
The second time, we returned home to find frightening words on our answering machine. "This is Dr. Kitchler, can you call my office at your earliest convenience?"
A month ago we were invited to The Heinz History Center. Ellen and Jaime were being honored with the 2015 WPIAL Courage Award, and this was the big "press reception". Little did we know that not a week later she would be ask to prove it again.
This time, two excruciating weeks after a painful bone biopsy, we sat in our oncologists office awaiting the news no one wants to hear...
We had been placed in a small cubical of an examining room, and after waiting an hour, Ellen decided to open the door. This flies against some unknown protocol, because as Dr. Ohr rounded the corner, he no longer had the protection that closed door provided. His hollow look said visually everything we didn't want to hear. His first words were "how much do you know?" Oh God, the beast had returned...
It was explained to us that the biopsies revealed Ellen's cancer had metastasized in the bones of her pelvis. It was detected early, because usually a fracture is the first indication that something is wrong.
A treatment course is still being decided, but we are not waiting to move on what will be our biggest undertaking to date.
I have been told, by people who know such things, that there is currently nothing in existence quite like what we want to do. I like that idea, because if there is something Ellen Toy deserves, it's a creation unlike any before. We are going to create tart the first ever "vollership program" designed specifically to aid athletes whose families have encountered financial difficulty because of a medical condition.
We want these kids to get to go to camp, or to begin or continue their club career. Volleyball people have been so good to us during the journey, and so it will be volleyball that our legacy will focus on. Growing this great game is one thing, caring for it, even on some young athletes darkest days, that will be our task.
We have set up a GoFundMe page( http://www.gofundme.com/um4uxs )hoping as this story gets told the volleyball community rises up with us and helps us get this undertaking off the ground.
Waiting for news of Ellen's treatment regimen is difficult, but I would tell you maybe it's already started.
Cancer is an evil beast, and kindness and love are its natural enemies. The treatment has begun.