Molly's Kids: Sept. 21- Madison Graham - | WBTV Charlotte

Molly's Kids: Sept. 21- Madison Graham

Courtesy of Madison's family Courtesy of Madison's family
Courtesy of Chasing Wonder Photography Courtesy of Chasing Wonder Photography
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Gotta love Madison Graham’s lunchbox. This was from her first day of kindergarten a couple weeks ago.

Now, 5-year-old Madison is a kidney cancer survivor. Her mom originally felt the tumor when rubbing her daughter’s tummy. At the time she was 5 months old. Doctors diagnosed it as a Wilms Tumor.

Her kidney and the tumor were removed with less than 4 percent chance of it recurring. Only, Madison was in that 4 percent. It came back in her lung when she was 4 years old.

She underwent another surgery and added in six months of chemo. Since May of 2015, Madison has remained cancer-free and her prognosis is really good.

“50 years ago her outcome wouldn’t have been so positive,” Jennifer said. “I credit funding for less toxic treatments.”  

However… 

“I still always hold my breath about a month before her scans,” Jennifer Graham said. “I always struggle with what I can mentally and emotionally share beyond family and close friends. Those days leading up to scans are filled with worry and anxiety. It’s just really, really tough.”

I hear that from families of kids in remission all the time: The fear of the check-up and new scans. 

But here’s the good news in Madison’s case… She had her scans September 9…

They came back perfect!

“ALL CLEAR!” said Jennifer. “Fifteen months post-chemo and we are thrilled!”

Madison has a twin sister named Hailey. Why does cancer affect one twin and not the other? No idea.

“There is still lots to learn,” Jennifer said. “It’s part of why I think the education of September/30 Kids is important. I want people to understand that all these children are more than statistics. They are – WE ARE – normal people devastated by a cancer diagnosis. Supporting pediatric cancer through funding research really matters.”

Jennifer says even though Madison’s cancer was well-researched with a positive outcome, it’s still C-A-N-C-E-R. In your C-H-I-L-D.

“Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of where she has been,” Jennifer said. “Her scars. Her short hair. Her fear of the doctor. We have been taking pictures of her insides every three months since she was 5 months old and that is as routine to us as going to the dentist.”

Jennifer also said the following, which I found powerful.

“We live our lives in 3-month increments,” she said. “We try to cram as much love, life and normalcy into her childhood as we possibly can. This is how families of children with cancer live. Test-to-test. Visit-to-visit.”

A terrible and very real thought.

“I wrote to you initially not for pity or attention, but because I want awareness, education and outcomes to occur,” she said. “NOT just for Madison. For any child impacted by cancer. We sat in the infusion room at Levine Children’s Hospital and watched children go through horrible things.”

Thank you for speaking in such direct terms, Jennifer. Give Madison a high-5 for today as you send her off to school. Tell her she has lots of #MollysKids love behind her.

-Molly

**Editor's note: This is about one of #MollysKids in the month of September, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. This article was first published there – maybe you'll be able to tell that in the personal way it's written. For years Molly has followed the stories of dozens of kids with uphill medical battles. During Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, she features one a day.  Thirty total. Find this story (and updates on all of #MollysKids) here.

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