Maddy gets scared very easily in hospital environments, but our first encounter with Niswonger was pretty awesome.
– Laura King, Maddy’s mom
Laura and Matt King noticed that the development of their youngest child was not quite the same as it had been for her older brother, Isaac. Maddy didn’t start walking until age 2 and didn’t talk until she was 3 years old.
“A lot of the things she did were just different,” recalls Laura.
Then when Maddy started preschool in August 2014, the teacher called Laura to share some concerns. Maddy’s teacher told Laura that in her entire career she had never encountered a child with so many delays—her speech, fine and gross motor skills and depth perception were all red flags.
“Maddy was at the lowest point on all of her scoring and her teacher felt it was important to see the doctor to find out what was going on,” says Laura.
During a visit to the pediatrician for tests, Laura asked the doctor if Maddy’s development issues might be related to neurofibromatosis, a condition Maddy had been diagnosed with when she was two weeks old. The Kings had been told that the condition was the cause of light brown patches on the skin (called café-au-lait spots) but it also carried an additional risk of tumor formation, particularly in the brain.
“It was like a little red flag went off in his head,” said Laura. After more tests and an MRI at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, Laura and Matt got news that sent them into shock and fear … at just 4 years old, Maddy had cancer.
The first hurdle was to help Maddy navigate her fear of hospitals and procedures. “Maddy gets scared very easily in hospital environments, but our first encounter with Niswonger was pretty awesome,” says her mother. “They just smoothed her through the whole process … they were a team working with her, but not in a scary way.”
Child life specialists and the medical team, experienced at interacting with children in a medical environment, helped Maddy grow even braver. Now she handles the treatments like a little warrior, says Laura.
As regular visitors to Niswonger Children’s Hospital, Maddy, along with her mom, dad and brother, say that Maddy’s health care team is now an extended part of their family. The positive attitudes, kindness and comfort given to them by their care team have helped them all navigate this scary and life-changing journey with hope and confidence that can only be found in a place just for kids and their families … a place like Niswonger Children’s Hospital.