3 Years Old at Diagnosis
When Madison, or Maddy Cakes as her family calls her, was three-years-old, her parents picked her up from her learning center and were told that she was very tired because she played all day. They took her home, and went through their normal routine. When it came time to give her a bath, Madison’s father, noticed that her stomach was larger than normal, causing her belly button to go from an “inny” to an “outy.” Her parents decided to let her sleep and go to the doctor the next day. The doctor prescribed some medication that morning, and told them to come back in the afternoon, but when Madison cried out in pain during a nap, they knew that something was seriously wrong.
Madison’s doctor sent the family to Inova Fairfax Hospital with the assumption that her appendix was preparing to rupture. However, after a series of tests and scans, and ultimately surgery and biopsies, the unimaginable was confirmed; Madison was diagnosed with Stage IV High-Risk Neuroblastoma. The main tumor in Madison’s abdomen was the size of a melon, and was wrapped around her major organs and pressing on her right kidney which caused pain in her right leg. The cancer had also spread into her shoulders, legs, lower spine, bones and bone marrow.
Treatment began right away. Since her diagnosis on June 5, 2012, Madison has had countless surgeries, nine cycles of chemotherapy, a stem cell and bone marrow transplant, oncology radiation therapy, MIBG radiation therapy, and she just started antibody therapy. Whenever it’s time to leave the hospital after a long stay, Madison packs up her things and excitedly yells out “We’re bustin’ outta here!”
When her siblings are feeling sad about Madison being in treatment she is quick to tell them, “It’s ok, you don’t have to cry, don’t be sad. I’m going to be ok! I’m just going to the hospital to get my treatment to take my cancer away and then I’ll be back home! Everything’s going to be fine, so don’t cry, ok?”
Throughout it all, Madison has lived life to the fullest. She runs their household, most days bossing around her siblings or comforting them when they are upset. They call her the “little big sister.” She loves Disney, dancing, and the colors pink and purple. She calls herself a princess because “I’m beautiful on the inside and out!” and a superhero because “I’m so strong and brave.” Her parents agree. She has shown strength throughout treatment that they never thought possible.
Madison and her family continue to fight and raise awareness because they want to reclaim some of the power that cancer has taken from them.