Like many 3-year-olds, Peyton likes to play. She enjoys coloring, music and popular movies like Trolls, Moana and Frozen. However, Peyton also is familiar with things most children aren't: chemotherapy and radiation.
In early 2016, Peyton started experiencing headaches and nausea. On March 7, a scan at the doctor’s office revealed two brain lesions that turned out to be medulloblastoma. Doctors sent Peyton and her family to St. Jude Children’s Research Center in Memphis, where surgeons removed 98 percent of the tumor. The toddler then went through seven months of chemotherapy.
“She, of course, lost all her hair. She was real sick, had a few different infections and stuff. But overall she did really well,” said Peyton’s mother, Megan.
After completing chemotherapy, Peyton and her family returned home to north Georgia. But another test in April revealed a new spot, so they headed back to St. Jude. This time, Peyton will several weeks of radiation treatments. So far, she is doing well.
Walking this journey with Peyton is not easy for her parents.
“It is so hard. But you see so many other kids here, it doesn’t make it any better, but it does make it a little bit easier knowing you’re not the only one with a sick child. And St. Jude is so awesome and they take care of us,” said Megan.
St. Jude covers medical expenses and any other basic needs the family may have.
“They’ve been wonderful. They obviously stationed us here, so we don’t have to pay for a place to stay, and they provide food and transportation if we need it. They’ve got different programs and things that kids can do to help them through the journey,” said Megan.
Those efforts include making sure Peyton, and her big sister have fun despite the challenges.
“We get to go to the zoo, and the children’s museum here, Putt Putt, there’s a few different things and places that will allow the St. Jude patients and their families to go do for free while we’re here, just to kind of pass time, get out of the room. We’re in the room a lot,” said Megan.
Fundraisers like the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway help make it possible.
“They’re just an awesome organization. Not only are you, they kind of take the burden off of you. You know, my husband and I both had to put out jobs to the side the first time. And of course, the second time he had to leave his job again. And so they allow us to spend more time with family and not have to worry about the financial part of it,” said Megan.
Peyton’s diagnosis was a shock, but her parents say their faith is helping them through it.
“It can happen to anybody. It’s a long process, it’s a long journey, some more so than others. But you just got to pray and try to get through it,” said Megan.
Work to build the home is down to the final touches. It opens for open house tours on Saturday, May 20. The house and several other prizes will be given away on Sunday, June 25 during a special broadcast on Channel 3.