Elena battled diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) for nine months before she just couldn't go on any longer and it took her life.
According to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, DIPG is a type of illness that attacks the brain's glial tissue of the brain. This tissue is comprised of vital cells that help protect the brain's neurons. The DIPG tumors are found on the patient's brainstem, which means the patient's most basic human functions like breathing and heart rate are no longer able to function.
Elena's father, Keith, told the Daily Mail how the family refused to let her diagnosis hinder what time she had left on Earth.
"We wanted to protect her so we never told her she might not make it.
We didn't want to focus on the cancer, we wanted to focus on being a family and doing all the things that Elena wanted to do."
While they were busy giving Elena the best life possible in her remaining days, she was busy with another important project that her parents knew nothing about!
Throughout the several months before her passing, Elena created and hid hundreds of notes all around her home. Little did she know that these notes were going to be exactly what her family needed to push through the grief of losing her.
Many of the notes were addressed to her mom and dad, but some were made out to her sister and other family members. Elena's mother, Brooke Desserich, explained that each handwritten letter was a source of comfort for her heartbroken loved ones.
"I think the notes were her way of telling us that everything would be OK. It feels like a hug from her every time we find one."
Elena left hundreds and hundreds of message for her family members - in fact, there were enough letters to fill three large boxes! They were found in dresser drawers, between dishes in cabinets, in photo boxes, everywhere around the house.
Two years after her death, her parents decided to gather the notes and make a book out of them called "Notes Left Behind." Not only will people around the country be able to take a peek into the life of their incredible little girl, but her younger sister, Grace, will be able to see what Elena was like before God took her to Heaven!