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Lot of heart: The number of surgeries and procedures Jaycee Elliott has undergone outnumbers her age. But she is thankful for each of her 28 years of life.

At 3 months old, Jaycee underwent her first heart surgery at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center. That began a string of more than 30 surgeries and procedures. The latest of those, she says thankfully, was Nov. 10, 2010, in Cleveland, Ohio.
by Bryan Painter Modified: November 28, 2013 at 7:59 pm •  Published: November 29, 2013
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Doctors have also closed a hole in the lower chambers of her heart and removed her gallbladder.

Considering all of this, Jaycee and Travis offer prayers of thanks daily, not just on the fourth Thursday of November.

Their hearts

In addition to Jaycee, Gregg and Joanie have a son, Jake.

“Something that you realize with children that are critically ill is that every single day that you can talk to not only that child, but your wife and your son, is a gift, every single day,” Gregg said.

And Travis, said when he looks at his wife, “I don't really look at her disease or what she faces.”

“I just look at her as someone I love and I don't dwell on the medical issues involved,” Travis said. “I've always told her that we will deal with whatever comes our way, together. We have put our lives, as individuals and as husband and wife, in God's hands. We both know that He won't ever give us more than we can handle.”

It's the way Jaycee handles her health challenges that has captured so many hearts.

She feels like helping others is something she is called to do as a Christian “and one way I try to help others is through prayer.”

“Prayer is such a powerful thing and I have had so many people pray for me over the years that prayer is just one way in which I can return the favor and pay it forward,” she said. “I strive to be a great Christian role model to those I come in contact with everyday.”

Jaycee has had the opportunity to speak to youth groups at churches, as well as to a group of nursing students from the University of Oklahoma.

Despite being ill on almost a daily basis, she graduated from Perkins High School in 2004 and was a valedictorian. She went to the University of Oklahoma and earned a bachelor's degree in communications in 2008.

And in 2009, in a white dress and veil, standing in the state Capitol, she married Travis.

She learns more with each passing day about this interesting life God has given her, she said. Many say they realize they are not promised another day. But Jaycee says, “I was certainly not promised 28 years, so I feel privileged to be able to live this life.”

“Every day is different, bringing along peaks and valleys, but I think each day has a new lesson that God is trying to teach me,” she said. “The disease that I have comes with good days and bad, but at least I have that day no matter what it holds.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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I've always told her that we will deal with whatever comes our way, together. We have put our lives, as individuals and as husband and wife, in God's hands. We both know that He won't ever give us more than we can handle.”

Travis Elliott,

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