PHOENIX - ABC15's 11th annual Operation Santa Claus is in full swing. The goal is making sure every child has a toy, and families have a holiday meal this year.
One organization you'll help with your donation is Phoenix Children's Hospital, where they're fighting for children's lives every day. One of those children is Madison Lewis.
It only takes a few seconds for Ayesha Lewis to go from proud and happy mommy, to a grief stricken mother.
“She's funny; she lights up a room with her smile. You can be having the worst day and she'll smile at you and just... I’m sorry”, as Ayesha chokes up, she glances across the room at her daughter.
Madison is the reason for her smiles and laughter; Madison’s diagnosis is the reason for her mother's tears.
“When they did the MRI on September 11th, they found a mass. It completely covers the left side of her chest cavity. It’s called ‘Neuroblastoma,’” explains Ayesha.
The tumor is so massive it has pushed Madison’s heart and spine out of place, wrapped around her aorta, is crushing a lung and a kidney, and causes her to walk on her toes. The “toe-walking” was the only symptom Madison had before her diagnosis.
“It's wrapped through her spine, so it's causing the tightness in her feet,” says Ayesha.
It would be hard for any parent to hear their child has cancer, but it is especially hard for a family still in mourning. Two years ago, Daniel Lewis, Konner and Madison’s father and Ayesha’s husband, was killed in a car accident on his way to work.
“He was killed two days before Konner's birthday, so that's been rough on him. Madison was daddy's little girl,” says Ayesha. “It’s been rough.”
As you might expect, the 7-year-old fighting stage 3 cancer has a lot on her mind. Madison, or “Madi Magoo” as she is affectionately known, is thinking about Christmas.
“I love Christmas,” says the tiny first grader, with a big smile on her face. “And I want a hamster.”
That’s the smile that brightens up the Lewis house, but it's her determination, that gives her mother strength.
“It's a long road, a long, long road,” says Ayesha. “And there are no guarantees. But she's a fighter. She's a big, big fighter.”
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