Last year for her birthday, 6-year-old Madisyn Sickafoose was in the hospital.
On Saturday, she was in a house full of friends in Kodiak celebrating her seventh birthday.
Sickafoose is home and going back to school at North Star Elementary full time.
She is recovering from Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer that affects the bone or soft tissue. And while she is healthy at the moment, the family’s fight against the disease will last for years.
“It’s such an aggressive cancer that 80 percent of the kids that are cured aren’t really cured,” Sickafoose’s mother, Jessica Gardner, said. “They won’t give us a cured diagnosis or even remission until we hit five years.”
The family goes to Seattle every three months for full body scans to verify it’s not back. They just finished their first three-month checkup and it’s not back.
The checkups take place every three months for two years and then every six months for a year and then every year till she hits the five-year mark.
Aside from that, Sickafoose has some significant problems with her arm and movement because the inside of it is full of metal.
“She was the first elbow replacement in the United States, so they’re still getting the kinks out,” Gardner said.
In January Sickafoose will have a surgery so she can get some more movement in her arm.
Although there is much to monitor and be done for Sickafoose, it would have been impossible to pick her out of the bunch of kids at her party.
She was happy, excited, full of energy and enjoying her birthday like any other 7-year-old kid.
“She’s adapting,” Gardner said. “It was a big adjustment because some people didn’t know or hadn’t explained to their kids what someone with cancer looks like when they come back.
“So she didn’t have any hair and she has a scar from her wrist to her shoulder. She’d have kids point at her in the grocery store and ask their parents — so that was really hard for her.”
At the party everyone was excited to play and enjoy her Disney princess-themed birthday party — a fitting theme considering where Sickafoose headed with her family on Sunday.
Thanks to the Make a Wish Foundation, Sickafoose will be in Disneyland for an all-expenses paid weeklong adventure.
“It’s amazing, she deserves it,” Gardner said. “We’re excited she gets to do this.”
Her actual wish was to spend time with Ariel the mermaid, and unbeknownst to her, that’s exactly what she’s going to do when she has both breakfast and lunch with the Disney character.
“She doesn’t know that yet, but she will be very excited when she finds out,” Gardner said.
“We’re excited to be back in Kodiak and thankful for all the support we’ve gotten from everybody, even since we’ve been back,” Gardner said. “People have been amazing. We couldn’t have done it without the support of Kodiak.”
Mirror writer Louis Garcia can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.