It was a clear, crisp morning in June of 2004, and there was a bustle of activity in the newly purchased Phelps house in Mcnaughton, Wisconsin. Spirits were high for parents Yasna and Michael as they thought of their two girls, Krishna, six, and Madalyn, one, growing up in their new home. Little did they know that in 24 hours their lives would change forever.
Yasna had noticed that Madalyn was hesitant to walk and felt pain in her right knee. "She had just started walking and she was doing so well," said Yasna. "The next morning she didn't want to walk and she had a fever a couple of nights that week." Yasna took Madalyn to Marshfield Clinic in Minocqua where she had several x-rays taken of her knee.
Testing of tissue from her knee joint fluid was sent to the lab in Marshfield confirming her parent's worst nightmare -Madalyn had cancer.
"The single word 'cancer' made our world collapse at our feet," said Madalyn's mom. "Why did this happen to our little girl?" The diagnosis soon took another turn for the worse. Madalyn had Stage IV Neuroblastoma - the biological characteristics of which make it very hard to treat because the cancer had spread throughout her whole body. Treatment was needed immediately.
Since the tumor was located in the abdominal area and had already spread to the knee, high-dose chemotherapy was needed as well as two surgeries, a bone marrow transplant and 12 rounds of radiation therapy. The staff at Saint Joseph's Hospital took the time to answer questions and Children's Miracle Network supplied many 'distraction' toys for Madalyn during these difficult treatments. They also helped and supported the entire family. "The most memorable moment was Christmas of 2004, when the pediatric unit of Saint Joseph's Hospital was decorated with Christmas trees everywhere and Santa Claus came to Madalyn's room with presents for both of my girls. We could feel this great love in the environment from all of the staff at the hospital," said Yasna.
Despite all of the efforts, doctors again found cancer in her bone marrow. For that reason, on May 23, 2005 Madalyn began an immune therapy treatment in conjunction with Retinoic Acid to try and eliminate the remaining cancer in her body and prevent the cancer from relapsing. "The immune therapy treatment consisted of an injected antibody that is able to recognize the neuroblastoma cells and help the body's own immune system kill them," said Dr. Divya-Devi Joshi, Marshfield Clinic Pediatric Oncologist on staff at Saint Joseph's Children's Hospital and Madalyn's primary physician.
During this time it was important to have a staff of physicians that understood the complications that could arise from having these treatments. Fortunately, Madalyn's parents couldn't have asked for more when it came time to diagnose and treat their daughter not only physically, but emotionally as well. "We felt we could not be in better hands," shared Madalyn's mother. "Each one of the medical staff, nurses, doctors, therapists, nurse assistants and child life specialists made us feel that our daughter and family were so important to them!" Of course, the loving support of Madalyn's family helped immensely in her recovery. "Madalyn's mom stayed with her through the whole procedure. Her parents are very loving parents who want to be involved in every aspect of her care," said Dr. Joshi.
Today, Madalyn's cancer is in remission, and Yasna and Michael are starting to feel relief for the moment. "We are very happy that her cancer is in remission. We know that she is not fully cured but we are taking care of her the best way that we can by working with her diet and taking care of her health," shared Yasna.
Although she might have a long road ahead of her, Madalyn's spirit remains strong as she enjoys activities such as playing with musical toys, dancing, talking and taking baths.