Meet Elyse: 2019 Family Advocacy Day Child Champion

Elyse is participating at 2019 Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day from June 25-26 in Washington, D.C. During the event, Elyse will share information about her health journey and the importance of children’s health care with members of Congress. Below is her story.

Elyse is fascinated by baked goods, but she hates the taste of sugar and would never eat anything sweet. Despite her aversion, this hard worker shatters her goals when selling Girls Scout cookies!

Even though Elyse looks like a normal teen when you first meet her, she struggles on a daily basis. Elyse was diagnosed with chronic intestinal pseudo obstruction shortly after birth and has lived in and out of UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital for the past 12 years. She has endured numerous surgeries and clinic visits and relies on five different specialists.

Despite all of this, Elyse doesn’t for one moment want pity. She shares, “I am not defined by my condition. I want to make sure that others don't feel shame just because they are different. I am more than my diagnosis.”

She put her positive attitude to work every day in the hospital—despite spending a large portion of her childhood there, she quickly adapted. Elyse made up hallway and in-room games with everything she could find around. She wouldn’t let a hospital stay interfere with her outside world activities, either. In fact, she sold 1000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies from her hospital room!

There are so many medical staff that have become a special part of her family. From her child life specialist, Rebecca Martinez, who has been with her since she was an infant, to the many nurses, doctors, social workers and even cleaning staff who showed an interest in her well-being. The UCLA staff is like an extended family and although many have come and gone, many remain a part of her life.

Elyse hopes to attend college away from home and one day become a nurse. She wants to care for other kids like she was cared for at her children’s hospital!

Join us in welcoming Elyse to 2019 Family Advocacy Day.

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