During the past year, twenty-year-old Madison has endured her fair share of challenges. But through them all, she’s persevered, displaying an incredible amount of willpower and fortitude, much like she plans to do during the 5K portion of the 2017 St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend, just months after completing treatment for cancer at St. Jude.
During the fall of 2016, Madison noticed some swelling underneath her arm that was accompanied by a low-grade fever. Within days, Madison had a golf ball sized nodule on her neck. After undergoing a series of tests, Madison’s life soon turned upside down when a biopsy revealed she suffered from Hodgkin lymphoma. “I’ve always been someone who likes to have control over my life,” Madison said. “So once I learned the diagnosis, I said, okay, now how can we fix it?”
Following the recommendation of her doctors, Madison and her family turned to St. Jude for her treatment and care. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90%, and we won’t stop until no child dies from cancer. At St. Jude, Madison’s treatment included four rounds of chemotherapy, as well as occupational and physical therapies.
During her treatment, Madison’s biggest supporters were her parents, Todd and Melissa. “Over the past six months, I’ve learned that we may not have it all together, but together we have it all,” Madison said. “My family has sacrificed so much for me, without ever batting an eye. They’ve been a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on when I’ve needed it.”
Todd, who has been a firefighter for 24 years, has been especially important to Madison during her journey. “He’s the most selfless person I know,” she said. “He taught me the importance of giving back. He’s not just a hero to the community. He’s my hero.”
Madison displayed those same values last year, when she decided to participate in the 5K portion of the 2016 St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend, just days after starting chemotherapy. “Last year was by chance, this year is by choice,” she said.
For Madison, the race presents an opportunity to give back and raise awareness for all of the patients at St. Jude. “I’m twenty years old, so I’m able to be a voice and share my experience,” she said. “I want to use these moments to be a voice for the younger children at the hospital, those who aren’t able to share their story.”
“St. Jude is more than just a hospital,” she said. “It’s a place where I feel safe.”