Pickle's Story

Marianna McGaha
April 18, 2024
the Volousky family standing on a paved wooded path, smiling.
The Volousky Familly

Eliza Cate Volousky, affectionately called “Pickle,” will celebrate five years cancer-free in February 2025. Eliza Cate, now 8, was just 4 years old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“Words cannot describe how life altering this diagnosis has been not only for Eliza Cate, but also for our entire family,” said her dad, Zach Volousky.

Over two-and-a-half years, Eliza Cate endured more than 800 days of chemotherapy – as well as blood transfusions, spinal taps and other procedures. It was a physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting time for the Volousky family.

“We knew there was an extremely high survival rate, but the two-and-a-half-year treatment process is arguably worse than the disease itself,” Zach said. “I still question why she had to endure this at all. Why did cancer choose our girl? Why our family?”

As difficult as her treatment was, the Volouskys were always confident in the care they were receiving at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, which is nationally ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals for cancer.

“We never doubted that Eliza Cate has been at the right place over these past four years,” Zach said. “It has been much more than just a hospital for us. It has felt like a second home, and every employee from the front desk to Eliza Cate’s oncologist now feels like family.”

They’ve also felt the love of friends, family and the community throughout Eliza Cate’s journey. “The overwhelming support that we had from day one of diagnosis allowed our family to entirely focus on Eliza Cate and getting her through this tough time,” Zach said.

As days, weeks and months in the hospital passed for the Volouskys, they came to understand how many families go through this process with little to no support. “A lot of families travel to Charleston and have to drop everything back at home to tend to their child in the hospital,” Zach explained.

The Volouskys were inspired to start a nonprofit organization to be that support to families who have received a recent cancer diagnosis. They named it Pickle’s People after Eliza Cate’s nickname.

Most recently, they dropped off care packages to the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. They also make themselves available to families who want to talk with someone who understands their journey.

“I think that’s what makes Pickle’s People unique,” Zach said. “We know everything that family is going though. Sometimes, hearing our story gives them peace and provides a light at the end of the tunnel for a family who's struggling.”