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Zaida’s Story

Zaida (ZAY-da) turned 3 in September 2007. We learned she had cancer a month later on October 31st. After eight very difficult and scary days in the hospital, we learned it was peritoneal carcinomatosis, resembling ovarian cancer and mesothelioma (neither of which should happen to a 3-year-old). She is now almost 11 and still an energetic and bright girl, even after all she has been through.

Click on 'Read More' below for more information about Zaida and how to DONATE TO ZAIDA directly through Zac's Legacy where the money will go towards her medical care. 


Using this "Donate Today" button will allow you to donate to CaringBridge, NOT TO ZAIDA AND HER FAMILY!

Zaida has been a cancer patient for nearly 8 years!  She had 3 years of various chemos and significant surgeries. After this, we had 22 months of remission, treatment-free! Zaida relapsed in April 2012, and had surgery and radiation (first time for radiation) over the summer. Then, she had 2 years of post-radiation chemo, and again went off-treatment this past October.

In December 2014, we learned that Zaida was having another relapse, and we must fight cancer again. Zaida had another lengthy surgery and hospital stay in April 2015 at MD Anderson.  We've also learned that the cancer has spread to her chest, and we will go back to MD Anderson for her first thoracic surgery on September 15, 2015.

Zaida has a sister Runa (age 13) who is wonderful and supportive! They both love Minecraft, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda, Harry Potter, fairies, magic, and animals.

Please help support us in creating history - by helping us beat this unique illness. We welcome your love and support. Please sign our guestbook and read our journal. 

There is a fund set up for Zaida's medical care.

Donations can be sent to:

Zac's Legacy Foundation, Inc.

2990 W. 29th Street, Suite 1

Greeley, CO 80631

Please write 'Zaida Mattson' in the memo portion of your check.

Visit 100% of all donations marked for Zaida will go directly back to the family. Also, visit for information on a tax deductable receipt.

If you prefer to donate with a credit card, a page has been set up here:

Nichol has also started a home-based business to help with medical costs.  Please visit and consider purchasing some handmade soap or hand-crocheted scarves.  They make wonderful gifts!

Thank you!

Latest Journal Update

Radiation is complete, chemo is about to start...

Zaida has completed 15 radiation treatments (5 days a week, for 3 weeks) to her right lung area. She did great for the most part; she cried through the first couple treatments, and one day she simply could not sit still, so we had to skip it, and add another day of treatment at the end. She's suffered no side effects, except some skin reddening.

Last Thursday, she had a PET/CT, which showed all her tumors are basically unchanged since the scan on October 1st. The tumors in her right chest should be "fried," though they still show brightly on the scan. This is normal, because of the radiation. The good news is there are no tumors in the abdomen (or elsewhere), and the tumors in her left chest have not grown. Dr. Clark is pleased, because when you spend time going after the worst problem in the body (Zaida's right chest), other problems in the body (Zaida's left chest) can easily get out of control. Thankfully, that didn't happen! Unfortunately, the doc was NOT pleased with the latest CA-125 of 236. We are hoping it is elevated due to inflammation, tumor cell death, and healing from the intensive 3 weeks of radiation, but Dr. Clark and the radiation doctor cannot say whether or not this could be the case.

Zaida's recent CA-125 levels:
8/19/15 - 175
9/14/15 - 287
10/1/15 - 194
11/5/15 - 236

Zaida will be admitted to the hospital tomorrow morning for her first doses of pemetrexed and carboplatin. Zaida and I will stay overnight to ensure she handles this well enough, she stays hydrated, and we control her nausea sufficiently. In the future, she may not have to stay the night. She'll get this chemo every 3 weeks, if it proves effective. She'll get a CA-125 drawn shortly before the 2nd scheduled treatment, and if it's higher, we won't bother with this chemo. We would then move on to another. 

We have been waiting a LONG time for the molecular testing results. There was a huge snafu of some sort, which caused the hospital to have to resend the tissue sample to FoundationOne. They are now putting a rush on it, and we should hear something by the end of the week (I'm not holding my breath, though). There is a big internal investigation to discover how this ball got dropped. Dr. Clark was pretty upset about all this; she had been calling every single week for results, and no one ever said there was a problem. I said it was fine as long as they are rushing it and figuring out the problem, and as long as it wouldn't matter in the long run for Zaida. Dr. Clark assured me that a couple weeks of delay will not make or break anything for Zaida.

Dr. Anderson at The Cleveland Clinic is waiting to hear the results from FoundationOne before they decide what they are going to test for. He has also asked for a sample of Zaida's original tumor cells, which Dr. Clark has already sent. She's not sure exactly what his plans are, though, with the old and new tissue samples. When people relapse multiple times, as Zaida has, the properties of the tumor cells change. We'll see...

Zaida had her birthday party/fundraiser last night. It was amazing and the love and support from our community in Colorado, and beyond, is astounding and humbling. I will write about it later and post pictures. For now, I am exhausted and feeling the need to rest and reflect on the kindness of humanity. Also, I drank too much last night. :)


P.S. Zaida got a cool new Angry Birds hat from the clinic!
9 people hearted this



Susan Sauer
By Susan Sauer
We are keeping each of you in prayer! Hope the winter is a kind one, allowing for safe commutes.
Susan Mesches
By Susan Mesches
Thank you for your update. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Positive thoughts are being sent your way.
Michael Jones
By Mike Jones
Thanks Nichol. Zaida's hat is cute! :-)
1 person hearted this
By Great, great Aunt Margaret
With all the prayer power going for Zaida, things should get better soon.
1 person hearted this
Su Wesely
Thank you for the update. Love the hat, and you deserve to relax with drinks once in a while. Hoping the chemo does its job!
Jessica Sievers
By Jessica Sievers
Looks like she loves her new hat! It's really cute! I hope everything goes as well as it can tomorrow. Will be praying for all of you.