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Junior co-host of 2023 Free Care Fund Telethon celebrates being cancer free

2023 Free Care Fund Telethon junior co-host is cancer free
2023 Free Care Fund Telethon junior co-host is cancer free 03:27

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Equal parts grit and grace.

That's what 12-year-old Elizabeth Loughren of Oakmont exudes every day.

We introduced you to her in December, as one of the junior co-hosts for last year's KDKA Free Care Fund Telethon for UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

When we first met Elizabeth, she was two years into treatments for leukemia.

She'd gone through chemo, radiation and a bone marrow transplant.

But her long and difficult journey finally came to an end on March 28th when Elizabeth got to ring the bell at UPMC Children's, signaling she's now officially cancer free.

"I think most importantly we were excited that Elizabeth could resume being a normal 12 year old," said her mother Lindsay Loughren.

It was an overwhelming moment of relief and gratitude shared by so many who love and support her, especially her parents and two older brothers.

Her dad Mike Loughren added, "The best part was having all five of us there together."

 But as moving as this moment was, there was another moment Elizabeth says was just a little bit sweeter.

"I started horseback riding again," she said.

Elizabeth had been able to return to some of the sports she loved like basketball and soccer.

 But her other passion, horseback riding, had still been on hold due to her weakened immune system.

"Because there's a mold in the hay that if I breathe it in I can get sick," said Elizabeth.

As soon as her doctor gave her the all clear, she returned to Black Dog Stables in Gibsonia and got right back into it.

"It was so nice to see all the horses and Megan and Sarah and start riding again," said Elizabeth.

Lindsay added, "It was as if two and a half years didn't change at all. As if we just left.

While Elizabeth eases back into the saddle, her parents can't be more thankful.

"The sense of gratitude that we have as a family from just about everybody that we've come in contact with who has gone out of their way to help because I think they see how special Elizabeth is," said Mike.

"We've reached a big milestone. We are back to our busy but good busy. We are definitely back to the old normal. It feels very good to be back," added Lindsay.

Meanwhile, the "Elizabeth Strong: Grit and Grace Foundation" the Loughrens started as a way to give back to other families at UPMC Children's, continues with no plans of stopping.

Mike said, "Being the recipients of all that love can be overwhelming, and it's refreshing to be on the other side and to be excited about giving back."

 As for Elizabeth, what she's been through over the past two and a half years, and at such a young age, has given her a perspective on life that's good advice for all of us as we face our own challenges.

"Celebrate the small wins," she said.

For more on the Free Care Fund, visit this link.

KDKA Executive Producer of Special Projects Corey Martin contributed to this story.

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