Amber Nicole Madigan (2001-2014)
Amber was born July 6, 2001. It was May 2008 when Amber had her first symptom that something was wrong. She was 6 years old at the time and finishing up first grade. She had a non-responsive seizure. Over the course of the summer, she had many tests to determine what was wrong even though a CT scan showed she had a lesion on her brain. This lesion was not seen as cancer or anything significant to have immediate actions done, but just put on a watch. In December 2008, a follow-up MRI of her brain was done and 2 days after Christmas she had surgery to remove the now labeled tumor. The tumor was fully removed followed with local radiation to the site. 2 weeks after being released from the hospital we learned it was cancer; Anaplastic Ependymoma Grade III to be exact. With all the spunk of a 7 year old. She declared cancer was not going to take her. Unfortunately, cancer returned in December 2012 along her spine. She endured 8 weeks of radiation on her brain and spine and surgery to remove one of the tumors that was viewed as dangerous to blocking her spinal fluid flow. In August 2013, tumors returned for the 3rd time. There were 3 in her brain and all inoperable. Radiation was no longer an option. We attempted a clinical trial at St. Jude’s Hospital in Tennessee but 5 weeks into the program, her disease progressed rapidly with tumors multiplying and after a seizure, we were sent home to finish out her days. She passed peacefully on February 25, 2014 at home in Eastpointe, MI (USA) with her parents, 2 siblings, 2 grandmothers, pastor, hospice nurse, and social worker in attendance.
There were 14 years between her and her next sibling. She was a bright light in our lives. As a toddler, I could already see how bright this little girl was going to be. The term “out of sight, out of mind” did not apply to her. She began reading at 4 years old and I could see her concept of math at such a young age was already developing. I did not see this with her siblings. I needed to make a decision to put her in a special school or a mainstream school. I chose mainstream mainly because it seemed socialization was more important to her. Best decision I made. She was a very busy girl. She loved playing sports even at a young age. When she was 3, she saw some older boys playing basketball and asked when she grew up to be a boy so she could play basketball too! She always put a smile on my face. At the age of 4, she entered into interactive sports with the first being basketball, of course. Adding to that at the age of 5 was soccer. She also played T-ball, Coach pitched baseball, kid-pitched baseball, softball, track, cross country running, karate (orange belt), and volleyball as various other sports within her 8 years of sports. She loved horseback riding, animals, and hanging with her friends. When her friends were at the age of playing house, she would always be the dog. I just could not keep up with jeans without holes in the knees. Amber was very much an outdoor girl and even went hunting with her dad for the first time in 2013 and shot her first deer (4 point) on the first shot from a bow. I can’t forget the few years of dance and tumbling.
Amber’s faith was very evident. She loved God and was not afraid to show it. She was kind to others and always willing to forgive when others treated her badly. Many were drawn to her. She was the friend that kept your secrets but would not be afraid to tell you when you were wrong. She had a strong will that served her well battling cancer. Even as young as 8, she questioned the unfairness of the lack of cancer awareness for all cancers. She only noticed the breast cancer awareness. She felt all cancers should have equal awareness. Equality was important to her. When some of her classmates would put themselves above others, she was always the one to remind them that God created us all equal. No one was more important than another. Her dream was to be a Veterinarian. She already knew what college she would attend and even had someone that would endorse her when it came time. Amber will be missed by many. The potential she could have added to this world will never be known because she will be forever 12.