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Social distancing advice from an expert: a pediatric cancer survivor

"Just don't treat it like it's the worst thing in the world," Ellie Slate said of the necessary social distancing that helped save her life.

DALLAS — This whole social distancing thing is not always easy, not always convenient, not at all in keeping with our daily goals in life. But an inadvertent social distancing expert said it's a small price to pay for the lifestyle that helped keep her alive.

"I'm just really passionate about this subject," Ellie Slate said in a Zoom interview from her home in McKinney. 

"It does frustrate me," she said when she hears people complain about sheltering in place in their homes to fight the spread of COVID-19. "Because it's not nearly as bad as they think it is."

What is bad, is being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of 11. Ellie missed going to school the entire year of 6th grade. Also, off and on for nearly two years, when she was stuck either at at the Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Health or at home recovering from chemotherapy and other treatments.

"How did you handle that?" WFAA reporter Kevin Reece asked. 

"With a lot of patience," she laughed.

Credit: Slate Family

And that's what this now healthy 15-year-old cancer fighter suggests we all do during this time. Read books, watch movies and reconnect with family. Be thankful for a moment to slow down.

"Have fun on your phone," she said with her mom Kelly Slate seated next to her. "Because usually your mom would say that's a bad thing. But you have nothing else to do. So your mom can't tell you it's a bad thing," she said as both she and her mom shared a laugh.

"Just don't treat it like it's the worst thing in the world. Although there's a lot of bad things happening, and it doesn't seem like a really good thing to be stuck in your house, try to take the best things of it, and use that."

"And then plan, just don't over plan because the kids get tired of you over-planning," Kelly Slate said. 

"Is that true?" Reece asked Ellie of the game, activity and school-work planning expertise of her school teacher mom. 

"Yes, just a little," she joked.

Ellie is in remission. The treatments worked. The cancer is gone.

"I'm almost, I'm almost normal you could say," she said with a smile.

Credit: WFAA

And for this brief abnormal moment in time where we are asked stay socially distance and pay special attention to the threat of a dangerous virus, a cancer survivor says hang in there.

"I would like them to know that being in the house for a few weeks, will not kill you. As much as you think it will, it will not," Ellie said.

In fact, it's the exact opposite.

Just like the little girl who fought and beat leukemia, staying home just might save a life.

And all of us can understand that.

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