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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 10 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 over 7 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 are waiting to hear when we will go back to MD Anderson for her first thoracic surgery.

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

I wish we were on vacation...

On Monday, Zaida got a fever, so we went to Children's urgent care, close to our house, hoping not to have to go to Denver.  We were there for 5 hours.  They tried twice to access her port, and couldn't get it to draw blood or flush, so they put in an IV for labs, a blood culture, and antibiotics.  I've decided that it is rarely worth going there, as they are not equipped to deal with how complicated Zaida's care can be.  They insisted on transport via ambulance to Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver.

The nurses at RMHC got her port working with no problem!  The chemo Zaida's been getting has made her neutropenic, thus causing the fever and whatever illness she has.  Her ANC Tuesday morning was 86, indicating very low immune system function, and her hemoglobin was 7.3, necessitating a bag of O positive.

She's also been getting antibiotics, neupogen (to stimulate white blood cell production), and Tylenol everyday.

Today, her ANC is about 500, so this is a great improvement.  Her last fever was very early this morning. We need her counts to go up and fever to subside before getting out of the hospital, so we are on the way.

Zaida is feeling pretty good, thankfully, but her body is still sore and achy.  This is probably from whatever illness she has, but the neupogen is most likely compounding the soreness.

Zaida's CA-125 from a couple weeks ago was about 120.  This is a significant increase, and we were hoping it was spurious.  However, yesterday we learned that last week's CA-125 was 131.  I've been trying to process this and have been having a hard time.  I'm afraid the cancer is growing so much, that we are missing the window for a most productive surgery.  MD Anderson is in the process of coordinating 3 (I think) surgeons for Zaida's thoracic surgery.  They are certainly taking a LONG time.

We've been aware of Zaida's poor prognosis since the beginning, in 2007, and have been trying to come to terms with it ever since.  The surgeon at MD Anderson has given Zaida so many years of life, good quality life.  I know in my heart that Zaida can only last so long, that she will not reach adulthood, she will not be in the minority that somehow beat this cancer.  This sounds defeatist, I know.  Should I live in denial, or keep my feet planted in reality?  What is better for my mental health?  We all have spent a lot of time in blissful denial, but this becomes more difficult with every relapse. Unfortunately, I cannot force myself to believe anything but the plain reality in front of me.  Life is pain.

Yes, there is hope, still.  We have hope.  Hope for a few more years.  Hope that science will figure this out soon enough for Zaida.

In the meantime, if you can't find me, I for sure did not hop on an Amtrak from Denver to Delray Beach, Florida.

8 people hearted this



Lisa Lindeman
By Lisa Lindeman
You are wise beyond your years. Your strength is never ending. Your time with Zaida will be one to cherish always. So for now hope and prayers continue to come your way for you all. GOD BLESS
Vicky Sternicki
By Vicky and Frank
Oh! and Cry. Tears are the vessel of release for all of those pent up emotions!
Vicky Sternicki
By Vicky and Frank
In the midst of reality, of what we are facing, of the pain that we endure, of the anger that we can't help but feel, we must also mix that with hefty doses of hope, laughter, encouragement and lots of LOVE! Failing to do that will drive us absolutely insane. I think you are doing a great job of juggling all of your mixed emotions. We continue to pray for strength and healing. We are there if you need a hug, to talk, to vent, to SCREAM! We love you all!
kate abbott
By KLT — last edited
Unbelievable pain. Denial or reality fluctuates and means different things at different times. Whatever you feel in any particular moment is valid. It's been a long hard struggle.
I remain holding your hand, silently, from afar.
You are all thought of and prayed for.
Jessica Sievers
By Jessica Sievers
I wish I could help, or even truly understand what it's like for you and your family. I will continue to pray for a miracle, and for strength, comfort, and hope for all of you!
Julie Gensert
By Julie Gensert
Our thoughts and warm wishes are always with you and your family Nichol. Your tremendous courage and strength continue to inspire us, and we wish you, Eric, Runa and Zaida comfort in spite of the adversity that you face. We're still pulling for you!
Anne Brassard
By Anne Brassard
Oh how I wish things could be different for your sweet girl! Life can be so painful as you so clearly stated. I pray that Zaida gets more time to make more memories to help alleviate some of that pain. I hope that she can be released from this hospitalization sooner rather than later and get some strength back before further surgery. You all need to gain some strength back....please Lord, make it so. (((HUGS))) from RI
Donna D'Orio
By Donna D'Orio
I think of you and Zaida a lot. I hope for there to always be some form of comfort for you to land in. I pray for miracles...I am so sorry.
Sherrill Jones
By Sherrill Jones
Nichol - I am so sorry to read that it is taking so long to schedule surgery... and that plans continue to be up in the air. That is a tough place to live. I must agree w/Dr. Booth (below) in that you must continue to live in the HERE and NOW... not let yourself drift off into unknown territories.
Every day is a blessing...
I continue to keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers... strength, comfort and healing for all of you!
With much love and joy...