The cancer that an Estero girl has battled for more than three years is back, just eight months after the disease went into a total remission that baffled her doctors.
Photo by MICHEL FORTIER, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo
A biopsy revealed Jan. 19 that one of two lumps in Madison Merrifield’s gums is Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of cancerous tumors she has beaten twice before.
There will be no rounds of nausea-inducing chemotherapy for 11-year-old Madison this time.
“When they tell you everything they’ve got has less than a 5 percent chance (of working), it’s a no-brainer,” Dennis Merrifield, Madison’s father, said Thursday afternoon.
“We just decided we were just going to trust God to heal me again,” Madison said.
A miracle might seem like a tall order, but the Merrifield family has faith. It happened once before, they say.
Last February, Madison was given six months to live after her doctors learned the Ewing’s sarcoma — which is diagnosed in only 150 people in the U.S. each year — had spread to her lungs. The family stopped all treatment and looked to God for an answer.
They say he replied in May, when a routine check-up revealed the cancer was gone.
Madison said she was not worried last month when she felt a lump on her gum. There was no pain like there had been in July 2002 and November 2004, the last two times she was diagnosed with cancer.
- AUDIO: There is only one tumor left
- AUDIO: Trusting God to heal me again
- AUDIO: Reasons not to use chemo this time
- AUDIO: Learning that the cancer is back
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To be cautious, her parents took her to the doctor the next day. Her prognosis is now the same as it was one year ago, Dennis Merrifield said.
“They didn’t come out and say it, but the way they framed it all, we understood it to be a year or less, as far as they’re concerned,” he said. “We don’t think of it that way.”
Although it was a blow to know the cancer is back, Madison said she has made her peace. That does not mean she is giving up hope.
“This time it’s kind of like, been there, done that,” she said. “If (God) wanted me to go to heaven this time, then he could have done it the last two times.”
For now, Madison said, she plans to keep busy. That means lots of schoolwork, chores and sewing lessons.
Madison will also spend time fundraising for the American Cancer Society’s Bonita Springs/Estero Relay for Life. Last year, Madison’s team raised $13,000 for the event, which raises money for cancer research.
An order went out Thursday for 3,000 copies of a seven-track compact disc Madison began recording in July, the month she was supposed to die during her last fight with cancer.
Proceeds from the CDs will be sold to raise money for the American Cancer Society, Southwest Florida Children’s Hospital, and Candlelighters, a group that provides transportation to fun events for cancer-stricken children and their families.
The family is looking into alternative therapies for Madison’s third round of cancer and concentrating on eating healthily.
“We’re asking God for another miracle,” said Madison’s mother, Renee Merrifield.
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For more information about Madison’s CD or to purchase a copy, visit the Web site www2.caringbridge.org/fl/madisonm.