Childrens Giving and Growing March 2018

Mary Ellis Cravey sings “What A Wonderful World” during the Children’s of Mississippi Expansion groundbreaking ceremony.
Mary Ellis Cravey sings “What A Wonderful World” during the Children’s of Mississippi Expansion groundbreaking ceremony.
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Children's hospital patient gives groundbreaking performance

“I see trees of green, red roses, too, I see them bloom for me and you. And I think to myself, ‘What a wonderful world,” sang Mary Ellis Cravey at the Dec. 1, 2017 groundbreaking ceremony for the new children’s tower at UMMC.

The 15-year-old’s world is wonderful these days, thanks to the care she received from Children’s of Mississippi specialists. Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 10, today she is “essentially cured,” said her mother, Maggie Cunningham.

Cravey was pale, had lost weight and was exhausted, which led to multiple doctor visits within a two-week period. “She tested positive for strep and was having bad headaches,” Cunningham said. “Then we thought she had a sinus infection or mono.”

Bloodwork, though, revealed Cravey’s condition, and she was immediately taken to Dr. Gail Megason, medical director of the Children’s Cancer Center at Batson Children’s Hospital. While at Batson, providers also found a tumor in her left lung.

Cravey began her treatment, with the first nine months being the most intensive. Even though she had long hospital stays and months of being homebound, Cravey kept up with her class and is now a sophomore at Madison Central High School.

Cravey still gets check-ups at the Children’s Cancer Center and uses her experience to increase awareness of cancer and to support pediatric cancer patients. She’s sung the National Anthem at a Mississippi Braves game, attended the Century Club Charities kickoff for the Sanderson Farms Championship and rappelled from the Trustmark building in downtown Jackson for the Friends of Children’s Hospital Over the Edge fundraiser.

“Mary Ellis wants to give back,” Cunningham said. “Cancer is not a life lesson that any parent would choose for their child, but at the end of this journey this has been a lesson and no one can ever take that away from her.

“She has learned so much through fighting cancer, and she wants to use that to help others.”

Cravey is looking forward to being 16. Not to have a sweet 16 party or earn her driver’s license, though.

“Mary Ellis wants to volunteer at Batson Children’s Hospital,” Cunningham said, “and she has to be 16 or older to start.”