Ella Byrd McKeirnan

First post: Apr 5, 2017 Latest post: Feb 19, 2021
In March, 2017, the spring of Ella's senior year at Gonzaga Prep high school,  Ella was diagnosed with a form of cancer called “metastatic Ewing’s sarcoma” after presenting with a consistent cough that did not improve with treatments.  Metastatic Ewing’s sarcoma usually occurs in the bones or soft tissue around the bones. It is a developmental pediatric tumor that is most common in 10 to 20 year olds.  It is rare, with only around 250 new cases every year in the United States. When originally diagnosed, Ella had approximately 20 tumors in her lungs, 2 in her pelvis, 1 in her right upper arm and 1 in her big toe.  Ella underwent multiple lines of treatment with most of her care carried out here in Spokane at Sacred Heart’s Children’s hospital.  She was enrolled in multiple clinical trials, including a trial at Texas Oncology in Dallas Texas in 2018-2019.

Ella fought her illness just short of three years before she passed away peacefully in her sleep right before dawn on February 19, 2020 in the devoted presence of her mom, dad and three brothers.  She gave everything she had to this life and fought to stay a part of it until her independent spirit decided it was time to go.  She was an old soul and the best of this generation.  

Ella’s grace, intelligence, toughness and beauty were renowned to those who knew her and to many who didn’t.  She approached her illness with an almost casual disregard.  She never lamented having cancer and complained so rarely about symptoms of her disease and its often brutal treatments that her doctor worried she lacked pain receptors.  She was determined to ignore it until she couldn’t, and then adjusted her activities to maximize her ability to continue to live her life. Ella’s approach to the challenges she faced and her determination to maintain a positive mindset were featured several times on the evening news, inspiring thousands of others by her example and allowing many in the community to get to know and love her.  Over the last three years, Ella also became an advocate, regularly attending and speaking at cancer fundraisers put on by various organizations and lending her name to cancer-focused initiatives.  Ella lived her life to its fullest, and when she left it, she did it on her own terms and with nothing in reserve.  She will be remembered forever for the special and unique person that she was and will continue to inspire future generations through her achievements and actions that made the world a better place.  

We are committed to keeping Ella’s memory alive, so we would happily encourage everyone to review the journals, comments, pictures and links on this site.  Ella's obituary, celebration of life, funeral & eulogy links can be found in the journal section.  Pictures are posted in the photo gallery.