NewsChildren's Hospital Week


Family pays it forward by sending special friend to help kids battling serious illness

Posted at 9:34 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-13 22:35:00-04

Elliot hill has overcome more before kindergarten than most kids do in a lifetime.

It all started in 2019, after her parents found a large lump on her abdomen.

"My gut instinct was there something that's very wrong," Elliot's mother, Janett Hill said.

Elliott was just three years old when they got the terrifying diagnosis – kidney cancer.

"That's when we found out that it was stage four," Janett said. "It had already progressed and spread into her lungs."

Hill's motherly instincts were right. Doctors at McLane Children's diagnosed Elliott with Wilm's tumors – the most common type of kidney cancer found in children.

Like in Elliott's case, most kids with this type of cancer don't have any symptoms. But her parents worried such an intense surgery would be difficult for the young girl.

"She wasn't feeling any pain before diagnosis," Janett said. "Then she goes through surgery, she wakes up, and she feels pain. And she doesn't understand why."

The family said the doctors and a four legged friend at McLane Children's Medical Center saved her life.

After surgery, the Hills said Elliot wouldn't talk to anyone – that is until a team from the hospital brought in a therapy dog.

"Lorenzo comes in and as soon as he came in her face lit up," Elliot's father, Eric Hill said. "Her demeanor, everything just changed."

The parents say the therapy dog broke through to the child where people had trouble.

"She like kind of patted the bed and she was like, 'up, up'," Janett said. "We both looked at each other. And we're like, 'OK, yeah, can he just stay here?'"

Now they're hoping to pay it forward for kids facing serious illness in the hospital.

Because of that experience, the hills bought Elliot a dog.

They are now training "moose" to do therapy work in hopes that he can help other kids in Elliot's shoes.

The hills said they couldn't have gotten through the scariest time in their lives without the help of McLane Children's Medical Center.

"We don't know what we would have done honestly," Eric said. "Yes, there are other hospitals, but we knew that we weren't going to get the same level of care that we were going to get at McLane's."