Originally published on the Isabella Santos Foundation
Madison was diagnosed this past April with osteosarcoma at age five. After several rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor on her femur, she had surgery to remove her right femur and replace it with one from a cadaver. Fortunately, the medical team was able to remove most of the tumor and save both of Madison’s growth plates. She continues to receive chemotherapy and recover from her surgery. Once Madison gets the green light from her doctors to be more mobile, she is determined to learn to walk again so she can earn a super cute bribe from her parents – a Golden Retriever puppy.
A Community of Support
Madison and her family live two hours from Charlotte in Scotland County. She and her mom make the drive each week to Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital where Madison receives in-patient treatment Thursday-Saturday. They then return home for four days to be with their family – Madison’s dad, Michael, and big sister, Riley – and where Laura teaches three days a week.
“Madison’s diagnosis has changed us all,” says Laura. “Michael and I have to raise each of our daughters as single parents during the days when we are in Charlotte for treatment. The hardest part is not being together under the same roof. We are very grateful for the great friends we have made through this journey. You realize you can’t do this alone so you learn to rely on support from others.”
For the remainder of the year, Madison will be homebound where she loves to cook, bake, do crafts and make “how-to” videos on her mom’s phone. When she finishes chemo in December, she’ll resume her favorite activities including: dance classes, swimming and learning how to ride her bike.
In January, she will start kindergarten at the school where Laura teaches and where they already have a tremendous community of support. Faculty and students have created “Team Madison” in honor of Madison for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Scotland County. Laura and Madison stay busy supporting the team. It all started with their Levine Children’s Hospital life coach bringing them some beads to make necklaces and bracelets. From there, Laura and Madison started making “Madison’s Hope Rope” key chains that they give to patients at Levine Children’s Hospital and sell to raise funds for their Relay For Life team and other cancer organizations.
“Madison is our hero and is such an inspiration,” says Laura. “She’s such a good kid and is all about wanting to help other people. Even though she’s five, she’s changing people’s lives.”
Cancer Messed With…
Dr. Oesterheld with Levine Children’s Hospital invited Laura and Madison to be involved in a recent Cancer Messed With photo shoot. “Madison’s cancer diagnosis has slowed me down and opened my eyes that people are dealing with tough situations. We are committed to helping other people we can and were excited to be part of Cancer Messed With,” said Laura. “We had a great time at the photo shoot and enjoyed meeting Erin [Santos] and the other families.”
Laura has ordered $200 worth of Cancer Messed With…The Wrong Team T-shirts for her fellow teachers to wear at school on Fridays. “This is a way we can give back to and support the Isabella Santos Foundation,” said Laura. “Just to see the variety of Cancer Messed With shirts sends a message that it doesn’t affect the person who has cancer, but it affects everybody!”