Madison Beck was a normal six year old who had just started first grade. Within days of starting the school year her teacher noticed that she was having trouble staying awake in class. Over the next few weeks she became ill and complained of aches. But there was always a simple explanation for each symptom. Being tired was due to low iron. Leg pain was due to learning cartwheels for cheerleading. And feeling crummy for weeks? Well that was mononucleosis.
Madison’s mom, Beth, was relieved to get the mononucleosis diagnosis. It made sense and explained everything. But that sense of relief didn’t last long. The next day she received a call from the pediatrician who had also sent Madison’s blood work to the local children’s hospital. She told Beth to bring Madison straight to the hospital and pack enough for a week’s stay.
Cancer Journey Begins
“I will never forget the feeling I felt as I quickly gathered our clothes and made that first drive to the hospital,” said Beth. “Within just a few hours we were given the life changing news that our child had leukemia.”
Less than 24 hours after being admitted to the hospital a port was placed in Madison’s chest and chemotherapy began. “Our lives became quickly overtaken with nurses, doctors, treatment plans and medical terminology,” said Beth.
Journaling Every Moment
“When Madison was diagnosed with childhood cancer, reality set in that we could lose our daughter,” said Beth. “I decided from the very first day that I wanted to remember every moment with my daughter, the good and the bad.”
Beth began hand writing a journal of her thoughts and her experiences in the hospital. “I soon realized that writing was going to take forever and was looking for the perfect way to share our story,” said Beth.
A nurse recommended CaringBridge as a way to journal and keep everyone updated. Beth used CaringBridge to keep everyone informed of their challenges, set backs and victories. “With CaringBridge I was able to share my deepest thoughts, wishes and prayers without leaving Madison’s bedside,” said Beth.
Shortly after starting chemotherapy Madison developed a gastric perforation and was taken into emergency surgery. The surgeons were able to repair the hole in her stomach which was caused by the medication she was taking to fight the cancer.
Due to Madison’s stomach crisis the family spent days and weeks at a time in the hospital. Beth considered journaling on CaringBridge her “therapy time” each day, while Madison looked forward to reading the well wishes in her guestbook. “They often put a smile on her face,” said Beth.
Eight months after Madison’s diagnosis and stomach complications the family decided to change hospitals to further her treatment. Madison became a patient at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville and completed two and a half years of chemotherapy.
Madison remains in remission and will be considered cancer free in 2013.