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Gwinnett Magazine Heroes Project 2016: Elena Tate

“Hold on to hope and faith, just don’t give up.”
– Elena Tate

ElenaElena Tate’s life shifted seven years ago when doctors detected an anomaly in her bloodwork. Her parents fought to grasp it themselves before breaking the news to their fourth-grader: She had leukemia.

Elena underwent a grueling 28 months of chemotherapy but the cancer returned six months later.

“I felt total frustration and devastation,” she said about hearing the second diagnosis. This time, Elena’s doctors added radiation treatment followed by a bone marrow transplant in the summer of 2012. She was pronounced cancer-free following the surgery on July 26, 2012, but horrible side effects kept her hospitalized for 66 days.

“One of the hardest things was not being able to see my younger sister,” Elena remembered. Hospital policy prohibited 12-year-old Olivia from visiting, reducing the sisters’ contact to glimpses of each other waving between the double doors.

Reunited with her family, the 16-year-old honor student at North Gwinnett High School keeps herself busy with her school’s Relay for Life executive board, BETA, and the theater program. She feels that a positive attitude helped get her where she is today.