Makakilo Girl Battles DIPG, Hopes Her Fight Will Raise Awareness

Makakilo Girl Battles DIPG, Hopes Her Fight Will Raise Awareness
Updated: May. 17, 2018 at 9:46 AM HST
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An 11-year-old Makakilo girl is battling a brain tumor called DIPG...or Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma.

If you've never heard of it...neither did her family until she got it.

As a gymnast, Kaylan Haywood won the state championship for the vault last November.

But then in January of this year she went to another meet and could barely perform.

"She started, her left side started getting weak," says her mom Michela. "She started dragging her foot. Her arm was just hanging there."

So Michela took her to the hospital, they got an MRI...and then came the news.

"He told me she had a tumor," she says. "I didn't know how to act. It just turned my world upside down."

Kaylan says the whole experience was "Crazy. I had no idea. I was just like why are you telling me this?"

Making it worse DIPG is an aggressive, difficult to treat tumor on the brain stem.

There's no known cure for it.

Surgery to remove it is not an option.

And chemotherapy is usually ineffective..

When asked what she had to go through Kaylan says, "A lot."

That's an understatement.

Kaylan endured 30 rounds of radiation...a process that took 6 weeks.

And just ONE week INTO that treatment the doctor told her father, Gaylan Haywood, "you might want to think about putting your child in tubes, feeding tubes and breathing tubes. Me and my wife said we're not having that."

While the bad news kept coming, the Haywoods relied on their family, friends and faith.

Her fellow gymnasts came to visit.

And two of her friends even dedicated their wins at a national tournament to her and gave her their trophies.

With all the love Kaylan has responded better.

Radiation is done. And she's able to go to school a couple days a week.

"We've gotten a lot more strength now," says Michela. "She can walk up and down the stairs by herself. She's sleeping a lot better 7 - 8 hours at night. So it's been a struggle but she's doing so much better."

So now...a little time to relax.

This week they're headed to Orlando, Florida as part of the Make-A-Wish program.

But when they get back...they'll have an MRI to check on the tumor.

If it's still there Kaylan has been accepted to a clinical trial.

And no matter what happens she says she's determined to do one thing...keep fighting.

To visit her GoFundMe Page, click HERE.

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