Just before Makenzie turned seven years old, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor - an inoperable one because of its location on her brain stem. Since April of last year, this little bundle of energy has made weekly trips to Phoenix Children's to have her blood drawn, do blood counts and receive her chemotherapy treatment. Through it all, Makenzie has remained upbeat and positive – something that helped the rest of the family cope with the news. Since August of last year there has been no growth of her tumor – something doctors and Makenzie's family consider a success.
Below Makenzie talks about her treatment, some of her favorite things to do, her sometimes pesky brothers, and advice she has for other kids who come to the Hospital.
Do you remember the day you found out you had brain tumor?
A little bit. When we found out I was sitting on my mom's lap, and we were crying our heads off.
Do you get tired of coming to the Hospital?
I actually kind of like it because it's peace and quiet, and my brothers can't torture me there.
What has made you so brave through all of this?
Probably having my mom there with me.
Are you scared to have your blood drawn?
No I can't even feel anything. It just looks gross when I look at it. At first I was scared and thought to myself, "What in the world is that?"
Who are some of your best friends?
One friend at school is Mandy, and she's one of my best friends. And I have a friend Emily H. A few of my best friends at the Hospital are Elaine, she's one of the nurses. She's so happy and stuff. And Annie, she's one of my friends too. And Dr. Etzl and my other favorite doctor, who is Dr. Baranko. They've just been so nice to me. At this point I don't even care what doctor or nurse I get because they're all so nice.
Is that different than what you expected?
No. What kind of nurse would be rude and bossy? Nurses are supposed to be helping you.
Have you missed a lot of school being here at the Hospital?
I only miss school one day a week. The hardest part is that we make a lot of fun stuff. One day when I was at the Hospital they went on field trip and I missed it, and I really wanted to go. I'm like, "ohhhh please."
What is your favorite TV show?
Maya and Miguel. They're twins … one boy and one girl, and the brother gets annoyed with his sister sometimes.
See. Everyone gets annoyed with their siblings sometimes.
But Maya never gets annoyed with her brother. Isn't that strange?
Where is your favorite place?
I like being wherever my family is.
What would you tell other kids who have to come to the Hospital?
Well, I would tell them what it is like. First thing I would say is that you will sit in a chair and they call you from the front desk. Then they weigh you, do your blood pressure and take your temperature. And once a month they check your height. Then I would tell them that a nurse will take you to your room and you will wait there until the doctor comes in. The doctor will check your ears, nose, mouth, and eyes. Then the nurse comes in and gives you a port-a-cath. If your blood turns out to be good they do your medicine. Then they have a basket of stickers and you can get one of those on your way out. I like the stickers in the lab the best. I'm saving mine to make a picture frame.