Cows for cancer: Grateful granddaughter raises livestock to brighten patients’ days

Paige Lee with a cow she sold in 2016.

Paige Lee with a cow she sold in 2016.

Thomas Elwood lived his whole life on his farm in the village of Walton, in New York’s Southern Tier, with steers, pigs and chickens.

He was retired from Breakstone, the local creamery, where he worked for 45 years. He beamed when his grandchildren – he had seven — showed animals at county fairs. Beef cattle were his favorite.

Recalled his granddaughter, Paige Lee, 11, “Papa would help us wash our cows and get them ready for show and help us lead them.”

Paige's grandfather, Thomas Ellwood.

Paige’s grandfather, Thomas Ellwood.

Elwood especially enjoyed working with his grandchildren at the Broome County Fair in July in Whitney Point.

When Elwood developed lung cancer, he sought treatment at the Upstate Cancer Center. Rahul Seth, DO, took care of him. Elwood died at the age of 71 at the end of May 2016.

Two months after her Papa’s funeral, Paige brought one of the steers he helped her raise to the Broome County Fair. It sold for $2,200.

Some of that money Paige used to buy a pregnant cow, a plan she and her Papa had to help further her herd. The rest, she donated to the cancer center.

Paige with a cow she sold in 2017.

Paige with a cow she sold in 2017.

She remembered all the times her mother, Anne Lee, took her Papa for chemotherapy in Syracuse.

Paige decided to help people with cancer because she knows chemotherapy treatments can take a long time. “Having something to do makes it a lot better,” the sixth-grader explains. Her money paid for bags filled with special gifts for cancer patients from Thirty-One Gifts.

This article appears in the fall 2017 issue of Cancer Care magazine. To donate to Friends of Upstate Cancer Center, click here or contact the Upstate Foundation at 315-464-4416.

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