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A Survivor's Story

Family Matters - Summer 2010

Madi wins the fight

Madi with her parents, Pat and Heather

Dance classes, reading, being a big sister, and having a princess birthday party – this is the life of 7-year-old Madison Taylor. No one would know that only four years ago this bright-eyed, curly-haired girl full of giggles was fighting for her life.

Madison’s father, Pat, still remembers clearly the day his daughter was diagnosed at the MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. What presented as a pain in Madison’s arm and a fever that wouldn’t go away turned out to be acute lymphocytic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer.

“When Madi was first diagnosed, ‘Dr. Patrick’ (Patrick Zweidler-McKay, M.D.) sat down and talked with our family. He spent several hours discussing what was happening to Madi and what her treatment would include,” says Pat. “He allowed us plenty of time to ask questions. I’ll never forget that. They’ve been there each step of the way.”

With her “Sassy Kitty” doll accompanying her to each appointment and activity, Madison made friends with fellow pediatric patients and modeled her oncologist by giving her doll check-ups each day. Her favorite activity at the hospital was the weekly Bingo games hosted by MD Anderson volunteers.

Although the Taylors only have to return to the Children’s Cancer Hospital now for routine checkups, they have used their experience to help other families facing cancer at MD Anderson. Pat serves on the Family Advisory Council, a group of parents and staff who meet monthly to discuss ways to improve every child’s experience at the Children’s Cancer Hospital. Meanwhile, Heather serves on the Anderson Network Steering Committee, supporting and developing programs to benefit patients and caregivers at MD Anderson.

As for Madi, she doesn’t remember most of what she went through while fighting cancer. Instead, she has her sights set on her next dance recital where she gets to show off her new ballet moves.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center