Childhood Cancer Heroes

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Hayden Weslow

  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

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Hayden is an amazing artist. She draws, paints, creates things out of scrap material and builds things with lots of tiny detail. She also loves dogs, roller skating, and her skateboard. One of her favorite memories is watching the movie Roadhouse with her grandfather before he passed away. When Hayden started treatment for cancer, family friends made amazing t-shirts that quoted the movie: "Be nice until it's time to not be nice." - Patrick Swayze.

The year Hayden turned 8 she got sick with Covid. Weeks passed, but Hayden wasn’t getting better. She was suddenly having night sweats, and an unexplainable tummy ache. At the ER, doctors told her parents that they “see a lot of this with Covid in children” and sent them home with steroids. Still, Hayden was not getting better. Even after taking a spill off a four-wheeler in the snow, with bruises covering her legs and back pain, an X-ray showed nothing.

Hayden’s mom, Brooke, couldn’t understand. By Hayden’s birthday in May, she noticed that Hayden’s shirt was hanging on her funny as her stomach was distended. Hayden’s well check was coming up, so Brooke wrote her concerns to the doctor. Some possibilities came back: it was Hayden’s diet; some kids are born that way.

“I was there when my daughter was born,” Brooke said. “These were all new symptoms.”

It took two weeks before Hayden was taken in for imaging. Brooke knew when the doctors called and wanted bloodwork right away that whatever they found, it wasn’t going to be good news. She frantically packed because she wanted to get Hayden where she thought she’d receive the best care, and by the time she was on the road Brooke received the call that told her what she already knew. They were sorry, and wanted Hayden to see the best oncologist she could find. Brooke was already en route.

Hayden was diagnosed with B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She received the standard treatment for her diagnosis, and in August 2023 she finished receiving oral chemotherapy. Today she is in remission.

Hayden is Brooke’s hero because from the moment she told her daughter that they needed to leave for the hospital right away, she didn't cry, she didn't hesitate, and she seemed to understand that people were going to do all that they could to help her. Even when treatment got rough, Hayden didn't stop. She dropped down to 41 lbs. and struggled to walk. Brooke had to drive back and forth three hours for work while Hayden stayed with her mom and sister, but every time she came back Hayden would be in the kitchen lifting weights and showing off her muscles, proud of how much she could do. Even when her mom wanted to cry, Hayden never quit. Hayden will always be Brooke’s whole heart and hero.

Brooke’s hopes for Hayden's future are ones of good health and a long life. She wants to be able to see Hayden graduate high school and do whatever she dreams to do. Right now Hayden’s dream is to be a phlebotomist, inspired by the wonderful people that continue to draw her blood at the hospital.

At Neumours Hayden received standard treatment for her diagnosis and had the best care from amazing doctors and nurses and physical therapy. The Make A Wish foundation also granted her wish to go to Disney World in Florida

“If I could say something to someone facing this same journey, I would say to understand that it is tough and you are no longer in control,” said Brooke to those who may have also received a childhood cancer diagnosis. “You have to let go of everything sometimes and just focus on one goal at a time. It is an out-of-body experience to hear that this is what your child is facing. You lose yourself and your whole world is turned upside down, but you have to go with it and know that everything you are doing is for them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if it's a long tunnel. Things don't always go smoothly and there are hiccups, but there are also people around you that will help pick you up. You are not alone. You are stronger than you realize. I would never lie and say it is going to be easy, but there are beautiful moments even in the darkest times and being there for everything with your child is so important. It's ok to take breaks and it's ok to step away when you need to. Have faith and have hope. You can do this.”

Brooke remembers when the two of them spent that first night in the ER and she had to tell Hayden what was wrong. Hayden had a favorite TV show, Alexa and Katie, that helped her understand at such a young age because the character Alexa had cancer. While moments like these are captured in Brooke’s memory forever, more beautiful moments have also been captured on camera by Flashes of Hope, a program of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. “The beautiful moments that this Foundation captured for my daughter and I were a beautiful gift and a reminder that we made it to a milestone,” said Brooke. “Seeing this Foundation and what they do is inspiring and we hope they continue to fight the battle in finding a cure.”

"My little sister is a fighter and she is strong." – Daisy, Hayden’s sister

Information provided by Brooke W., Hayden’s mom
Updated April 2024

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