Hayden was an ordinary kindergartner – loved to laugh, play with her little sister, and do all the things a typical 6-year-old likes to do. But there is nothing typical about Hayden or her extraordinary courage.
On a Monday like any other, Hayden’s mother got her up to get ready for school. But Hayden had a low grade fever and was looking pale. Her mother Lisa called Hayden’s pediatrician who said it was probably allergies. On Wednesday morning, Hayden woke up and her mother noticed that Hayden’s urine had an unusual odor, and though she was not feeling bad, she set a doctor’s appointment anyway. The appointment was set for the following day at 2:00. This time, the doctor thought she looked anemic so they ran some tests. Hayden was not anemic. Further lab work was ordered, then they headed home to wait for the results.
The next morning they received a call from the doctor’s office saying Methodist Children’s Hospital is waiting for Hayden and to bring her in right away – she needed a blood transfusion.
At this point, leukemia and other cancers had been ruled out, but the doctors still didn’t know what was wrong with Hayden. A bone marrow biopsy was scheduled for 6:00 AM the next day. Three hours after the biopsy, the doctor told them that Hayden, as it turns out, does have leukemia. Hayden’s mom Lisa said, “When I heard those words, I lost it. I put a blanket over my head and said, ‘no, that’s not true and I can’t talk about this.’ It was explained that Hayden had ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and treatment would start right away and continue for two years. They told us Hayden will have a port put in tomorrow and chemotherapy will start immediately. That’s when I walked out. I was sick. I started with the whys? What did we do wrong?”
No one could tell them why, they just had to regroup and move forward. It was explained that Hayden would lose her hair; she would have to leave school; it was going to change her life. It was going to change all their lives.
So began the two and a half years of treatment that Hayden would undergo. But she knew it was going to be ok and she didn’t skip a beat. Even at just six years old, Hayden wanted her mom to know, too, that it was going to be ok. She looked at her and said, “Mom, I’ve got this. Don’t worry.”
As her treatments began, a glimpse of hope was on the horizon. One day, Hayden saw a nurse and her favorite Child Life Specialist, Joy, taking balloons to a fellow patient. Hayden asked Joy what the balloons were for. She said, “A Make-A-Wish party. And guess what? You can make a wish too!” With a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye, Hayden already had a wish in mind…to go to Disney World and meet her favorite princesses, Elsa & Anna from Frozen.
The anticipation of her wish to Disney World, and meeting her favorite princesses, lit up her world! It kept her strong, it kept her hopeful. Hayden went into remission 8 days after she began treatment – almost unheard of. But she remains in treatment still today. Prepared with stories of her trip and memories of her tea party with Elsa & Anna…she’s got this.
"Hayden’s wish was even greater than expected. This wish has lifted up my little girl up to no end. It was amazing to see her so happy after brutal chemotherapy treatments and other complications. Not to mention, this wish allowed our entire family to direct our attention to something more than hospital visits, and spinal taps."
Hayden is continuing with treatments and taking them like the champ that she is. She still talks about how amazing her wish was. Lisa told us that they turned on the TV one evening and saw a little boy getting his wish for a shopping spree granted on TV, paparazzi and all, and Hayden said, "Look! Look! Everybody is getting their Make-A-Wish! It’s everywhere!"
Hayden’s mom goes on to say that every part of Hayden’s wish was amazing and directly impacted her daughter’s morale. "Every inch of fear is gone…seeing the animals that she loves at Wild Kingdom was amazing, it was all amazing!"