Meet Payton – Leukemia Warrior
“Every step of this process of dealing with NCCS has been more than what I could have asked for and such a supportive and reassuring process. So thank you, NCCS - you have made a huge impact on our family and, most importantly, made life a little easier to navigate through this tough journey for Payton” said Rachael, Payton’s mom.
At 2 years old, Payton was living her life to the fullest. Like most toddlers, her “terrible two’s” have been marked with tantrums – but also with plentiful giggles, happiness, and fun. Payton spent her days doing what mattered most: watching Cocomelon and playing dress-up with her 4-year-old sister. A picture-perfect life without a care in the world.
When Payton developed a cold that slowed her down, her mom, Rachael, grew concerned. Rachael took Payton to a local urgent care clinic several times over the course of a month. When a round of antibiotics didn’t seem to alleviate Payton’s symptoms, the urgent care turned to bloodwork to pinpoint the cause of Payton’s discomfort.
The bloodwork was drawn on January 12, 2023 – a day Rachael will never forget. “No more than two hours after her appointment, I received a call from the doctor letting me know that Payton needed to be taken to the nearest children’s hospital as soon as possible for further testing.” To make matters even more worrisome, she was advised to be very careful while handling Payton until she was in the care of the specialists at the children’s hospital. Her bloodwork results put her at a higher risk of bleeding.
The oncology team immediately reviewed Payton’s bloodwork – and the results were devastating for the young family.
Rachael remembers the moment vividly: “This was when life came crashing down on us. Payton was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This is something that you never imagine hearing about your child. This beautiful, sweet, loving baby girl had no idea how her life was about to change.”
Payton’s treatment plan includes over two years of chemotherapy. She is proving to be incredibly tough and resilient, learning to overcome treatment obstacles one day at a time. Her carefree and happy personality shines through even the gloomiest of days.
“How are we financially going to survive?”
But of course, cancer doesn’t only affect the patient. Cancer takes a physical and emotional toll on the entire family. The stress of watching a child go through treatment is incredibly difficult to endure – but to add the cost of such treatment to the mix is often unfathomable.
After just a couple of months into treatment, Payton’s parents began to worry about their financial security. The couple owns an automobile repair shop and are the sole employees. But with Payton receiving medical care nearly an hour away multiple times each week, Rachael made the decision to stay home with her daughters. “There was nothing to think about. It was the best choice for Payton’s sake,” Rachael said.
Despite the sudden upheaval of their “normal” lives, the family has learned that life carries on. They still have all of their responsibilities before Payton’s diagnosis – a company to run, two daughters who need love and attention, and bills to pay – but now their responsibilities have multiplied and become more complicated.
The family drives nearly 90 miles roundtrip twice weekly to receive care for Payton. The miles – and the cost of gas – add up quickly. When Payton’s social worker referred the family to The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS) for help, Rachael wasn’t sure what to expect, but she knew she desperately needed help.
“Well, that was the best decision I could have made,” Rachael said. “NCCS called back the next day! They were so kind-hearted and comforting every step of the way.”
Rachael was touched by the support she received from her case manager at the NCCS. “The phone calls for check-ins have been so supportive, and they truly make us feel cared about. Every step of this process of dealing with NCCS has been more than what I could have asked for and such a supportive and reassuring process,” she said. “So thank you, NCCS. You have made a huge impact on our family and, most importantly, made life a little easier to navigate through this tough journey for Payton.”
NCCS continues to support Payton’s family through the Transportation Assistance Fund, which alleviates the financial burden of travel costs associated with cancer treatment. Because no family should go through childhood cancer alone.™