The story of Elinor and Jodi Scott

This is the story of the love between two sisters, Elinor and Jodi Scott. It is the story of how hard one sister was willing to fight for her own life, and of how far the other was willing to go to help her.  Jodi Scott is a physician, a mother and a runner. Elinor Scott was a writer a photographer and a poet. She was the mother of four children who were her whole world.

Elinor surrounded by her four children.
Elinor surrounded by her four children.

When Elinor became sick, Jodi became the medical advocate who raced against time in attempt to save Elinor’s life.

Elinor Scott began running when she was in her 40s. She discovered that she loved running marathons and it became her life goal to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. Elinor did just that in 2013. Unfortunately, she had begun experiencing some health problems prior to the marathon. Without any answers forthcoming from her doctor, Elinor made the trip to run Boston. She started the race with the thousands of other runners, and though she was running more slowly than normal, she was on target to finish the race. At mile 25, just 1.2 miles short of the finish line, she and the other runners around her were stopped by the Boston Police Department. While the runners waited for an explanation, Elinor received a text message from her daughter who was waiting at the finish line. The Boston Marathon finish line had been hit by a terrorist bomb attack. Elinor’s family was safe, but others were not so fortunate. There was chaos and panic in Boston that day as events unfolded. It took at least an hour to reunite runners with their families. Elinor was shocked and horrified by the act of terrorism that had taken place, but was relieved to know her loved ones were unharmed.

Elinor was determined to come back and run the marathon again in 2014. She had been deprived the opportunity of finishing in 2013, but she was undeterred. A month later, in May of 2013, she ran another marathon and re-qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Even though Elinor continued to run, she sensed that her health was declining. She had made repeated trips to doctors trying to find answers for why she was not feeling like herself. She was told that if she was still able to run marathons, it was unlikely that there was anything seriously wrong with her. Elinor believed in her heart that there was something seriously wrong. Not knowing what the future would hold, she decided to run another marathon in October. By December, she was no longer able to even complete her running club’s annual Christmas fun run 5k. Elinor ran her last mile on January 3rd, 2014. On January 6th, she was admitted to the hospital because she had blood clots in her legs and her lungs. It was at the time of her chest CT scan that the mass in Elinor’s pancreas was first spotted.

Elinor was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. She was hospitalized from January 6th until January 17th. It was at this time that Jodi Scott, Elinor’s younger sister, became Elinor’s medical advocate. When Elinor was diagnosed, Jodi began immediately pouring over medical research and looking into clinical trials. The sisters decided that it would be in Elinor’s best interest to enroll in a clinical trial. While Elinor was in the hospital, however, her condition continued to decline. As she became sicker, the family decided that she might not survive long enough to begin a clinical trial. The decision was made to start traditional chemotherapy.

Elinor started receiving Gemzar and Abraxene infusions. Her tumor markers dropped during the first cycle of chemotherapy, giving the family hope. Just one month later, Elinor received the bad news. On March 20th, 2014, Elinor’s birthday, she learned that her chemotherapy was not working. She took the bad news in stride. She had just had surgery to remove her ovaries and was physically feeling better. She would not allow the bad news to undermine her happiness and ruin her birthday celebration.

Elinor took a couple of weeks to recover from her surgery. She then started on a new chemotherapy combination called FOLFIRINOX. Elinor received chemotherapy every other week starting at the beginning of April 2014. The side effects were very difficult. She experienced extreme nausea, vomiting and weakness. Yet Elinor had not given up on her dream of finishing the Boston Marathon. Elinor knew she could not complete the full 26.2 mile race, but she knew she could finish the 1.2 miles she had been denied the previous year. Elinor sought and received permission from both the Boston Marathon board and the Boston Police Department to enter the marathon course from the point where she was stopped in 2013.

Elinor’s sister, Jodi, pushed Elinor in a wheel chair through countless checkpoints until they reached mile 25 on the course. Elinor got a hug from the police officer at the final checkpoint and then set off to finish the marathon. Elinor weighed less than 100 lbs. and wore a scarf to cover her bald head.

Elinor with members of the Boston Police Department
Elinor with members of the Boston Police Department

It was obvious to anyone who saw her that she was sick and quite frail. From the moment Elinor stepped onto the course, she was met with cheers of encouragement from the throngs of supporters. Jodi remembers being so deeply moved to see a runner stop to kiss Elinor’s hand. For Elinor, the entire last mile of the Boston marathon was an extraordinary celebration. When she crossed the finish line, Elinor enjoyed a special, poignant reunion with her mother and her daughter, Martha.

Elinor getting a hug from her daughter Martha at the Boston Marathon finish line.
Elinor getting a hug from her daughter Martha at the Boston Marathon finish line.
Martha & Elinor
Martha & Elinor

Elinor’s friend and training partner Ken was also at the Boston Marathon. Ken, inspired by Elinor’s fight, ran on the Project Purple team. After completing the race, Ken, Elinor and Elinor’s family celebrated with the Project Purple team. Elinor’s Boston journey was complete.

Elinor, second from left, with her mother, daughter and sister Jodi on the right.
Elinor, second from left, with her mother, daughter and sister Jodi on the right.

When Elinor returned from completing Boston, she resumed her FOLFIRINOX treatments. Her side effects, including neuropathy and gastrointestinal distress, worsened with each treatment. In August 2014, CT scans revealed that her cancer was continuing to progress.

Jodi had not given up on her hope of finding a clinical trial for her sister. She had been contacting medical centers around the country where clinical trials were being conducted, in attempts to find one that would accept Elinor. She was desperate to do what she could to help save her sister’s life. Jodi looked through hundreds of trials and finally narrowed their options down to one trial.

Jodi and a very weak Elinor traveled across the country. They believed that Elinor would be accepted into the study and would be started on the experimental drug. When they arrived at the medical facility, Elinor was told the devastating news she could not participate in the study due to a drug allergy. Jodi and Elinor were emotionally distraught. They knew her illness was terminal, but they thought they would be able to find a way to buy more time.

In September of 2014, Elinor’s doctors said that there was nothing more they could do to save her. Elinor passed away on September 12, 2014 surrounded by her loving family. Jodi did everything she could to save her sister’s life. Losing her sister so quickly is still incredibly painful for Jodi. She says, “I did everything I could for her. I just thought I would be able to get her more time.” Jodi wants the world to remember Elinor for being a strong, smart, determined and courageous woman. Elinor was the big sister who taught Jodi her vocabulary words and encouraged her to listen to classical music when they were children. Elinor was a mother to four children who meant absolutely everything to her. Jodi says, “She loved her kids so deeply. The thought of leaving them was too much to bear”. In fact, she says that what kept Elinor going was thinking that if she could just live long enough, a cure would be found. Elinor wanted to be able to live for her children. She refused to believe she was dying up until just a couple of days before she passed.

This year, Jodi Scott will be running the Boston Marathon for Project Purple in memory of her sister, Elinor. Jodi explains, “It was Elinor’s dream to run the entire Boston Marathon. That dream was taken from her twice: once by a terrorist attack, and then again by Pancreatic Cancer.” Jodi has run shorter distances throughout her life, but she has never run a marathon before. Though she is intimidated by the distance, Jodi wants to fulfill the dream that Elinor was denied. Jodi believes that Pancreatic Cancer is underfunded and under recognized. Running for Project Purple will help Jodi heal from her own loss while she makes a difference for others who have been affected by Pancreatic Cancer.

Support Jodi’s fundraiser at the following link:

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