(WBTV) - September 13th.
This little nugget will be 7-years-old next month. She lives in Scotland County, and is one of our #MollysKids because of pain that began in her leg Easter weekend 2018.
“My husband and I were rushing Madison to the ER at 3:30 in the morning thinking we’d be back home before our oldest daughter, Riley, even woke up,” said mom Laura. “It was over a week before I ever stepped foot back in our house.”
That overnight ER trip scared the local doctors. They immediately rushed Madison to Levine Children's Hospital where a tumor was found growing inside of Madison’s right femur. The swelling from the tumor was causing the pain in her leg, and the strongest of medicines weren’t helping.
Eventually the formal term came out: Madison had osteosarcoma.
“Her oncologist told us the journey we were about to take would be difficult, but that we must understand this cancer was treatable and curable,” Laura said. “I held onto to those words for ten long months.”
Madison received chemo for three months, which solidified the tumor and allowed Madison to start walking again without any pain. By July she had a five-hour surgery to remove a majority of her femur and replaced it with a cadaver bone. It got secured with a metal rod and screws. Her mom says this was hard because she’s only five.
“At a time when she was supposed to be chasing her sister around the house, learning to ride a bike and start kindergarten, our daughter was instead learning terms like ‘chemotherapy’ and ‘magnet therapy,’” she says.
Eventually though, Madison rang the bell on February 25, 2019 signifying she was cancer-free.
She was able to start 1st grade this year and took her very first piano lesson a week ago.
Life is getting back to “normal” for this little girl.
Three days from now, Madison and her family will travel back to Charlotte for her nine-month scans.
“We’ll also meet with doctors to determine her next surgery,” Laura said. “Because she’s growing fast, the metal rod and screws must be replaced.”
Laura says the hospital became their home away from home.
“We’d travel to Levine Children’s two hours every Thursday to stay for 4-5 days at a time,” she said. “We met amazing people and gained life-long friends. The nurses and child-life specialists were incredible. They were there for the good and celebrated every single victory with us. They also helped us through the bad stuff.”
As for this little girl herself, Madison loves everything. Her mom says unicorns are her favorite, but people are her passion. She even began a small “business” while sick, calling it “Madison’s Hope Ropes.” While receiving chemo, she made small key chains and sold them to people in her community. All the money she raised she gave back to others who were “in need of a little hope”. She also just gave her Hope Ropes to patients at the hospital and all of the staff on the 11th floor.
And though only six years old, Madison and her parents were also able to raise over $15,000 to give towards research through her Relay for Life Team. And last month, Madison hosted a blood drive.
“We had so many people show up that the donation center ran out of supplies,” Laura said. “Everyone who came, showed up because of Madison. She is the bravest person I know. It’s a crazy thing to say your daughter ‘fought cancer and won,’ but I never doubted that she could. She was never broken by the treatments, learned to walk again in just a matter of weeks, and never complained or asked why it was happening to her. She taught our whole family some great life lessons.”
**NOTE**: These 30 September #MollysKids stories highlight REAL kids in our community who battle. The stories are meant to be shared and educate about pediatric cancer, as they have every September since 2013. This year, I also encourage you to comment below with a message. Not to me. Please don’t write me. Write the family. Say something to Madison. Her family will read your words. Promise. They won’t think you’re a stranger. In fact, you’ll represent hope. Cancer can feel like an island – let them know you are present. The Good, the Bad and the Always Real. Right? Every post. Every day. Thank you.
*Editor’s note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there, which is why it’s written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all #MollysKids here.