MaKennah Barron’s journey has been followed by thousands since her original diagnosis this past November.
She was diagnosed with stage four brainstem cancer, otherwise known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG, which is a very rare form of cancer that only affects children.
According to MaKennah’s Aunt Sarah Wilkins, on Nov. 18, MaKennah had her first MRI and her tumor was deemed grade 4 on one side.
“It was explained to her mom, Ashley, as ‘the blood spot’ since it appears that way because it is so rapidly growing and that is what terrified us,” said Wilkinson. “Just a couple months later on Jan. 9 the staff prepared us to hope for a ‘stable’ tumor, meaning no growth, but didn’t expect it to have decreased in size.”
Wilkins feels that God saw it differently because the scan shows the tumor has decreased by 30 percent, but the “blood spot” or area of worry, and high tumor cell division and growth was still there. She added that they were still ecstatic with the positive news.
“From February through April, MaKennah had her first two rounds of chemotherapy and she held a good fight to keep labs at a normal place,” said Wilkins. “Her most recent MRI shows that her tumor has miraculously shrunk to less than half of its original size. There is no evidence of any cell progression at the tumor at this time.”
It appears that MaKennah’s labs have recovered to perfect, which means she can continue with chemo treatment at St. Jude’s in hopes of more tumor death. Wilkins said MaKennah is done with radiation. She is in maintenance chemo twice a month now and has already had two rounds. They made her labs go down so low that she was in isolation because she was such a high risk, her dosages were too high, and so they lowered the dosage.
“Now we just have to wait and see and pray at this point,” said Wilkins. “We are hoping that it is stable now, but it’s just a waiting process. She will continue to get labs weekly to check her levels and she can do that in Farmington. The doctors have told the family that she is not out of the woods yet because these tumors are known to begin growing again, but at this point she is further than they had ever expected it to shrink in the first place.”
MaKennah will be able to attend school when her labs are fine and there is no risk of her getting an infection. At this point her immune system is completely recovered and she is getting ready to start her third dose of chemotherapy. If her immune system takes another dive. she will have to come out of school again.
“She is a trooper about everything,” said Wilkins. “Besides having her one eye deviated inward, you wouldn’t know she has cancer, because she doesn’t have the telltale signs. She isn’t on the type of chemo that makes you lose hair and no one would know unless she told them.”
Recently MaKennah went on a “Make-A-Wish” vacation to Atlantis Paradise Island in Bahamas, and she was able to swim with the dolphins and had an amazing time, Wilkins said.
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or firstname.lastname@example.org