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Big Accomplishments for this Little Cancer Warrior

Over the past year, Madison was in the deep throes of battling osteosarcoma, a rare pediatric bone cancer.  In that same year, Madison, now age 6, learned to walk again, completed kindergarten, stole the heart of Duff Goldman from Kids Baking Championship and most importantly, beat cancer. 

That’s a big list of accomplishments for one little girl.

In 2018, over the course of 3 short days, Madison’s life swiftly changed. It all started with pain in her right leg and completely lost the ability to walk a few days later.  After immediately heading in for X-rays after what thought was a possible broken bone, a soft spot was found on her right femur. Immediately taken to Levine Children’s Hospital, Madison was later diagnosed with osteosarcoma in April of 2018 at five years old.  This type of cancer is extremely rare and almost unheard of in kids her age The solid tumor discovered took up to about three-fourths of Madison’s adolescent bone.

After several rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor on her femur, she had surgery to remove her right femur and replace it with one from a cadaver. Fortunately, the medical team was able to remove most of the tumor and save both of Madison’s growth plates.

In February 2019, she finished treatment at Levine Children’s and has since had very positive scans showing no cancer! At about the same time of finishing treatment, Madison learned her Wish trip would be granted by Make-A-Wish Central & Western North Carolina Chapter.

Madison and her family just got back from her Make-A-Wish trip to Los Angeles.  She didn’t ask to meet Taylor Swift or go to Disney World. She wished to meet Duff Goldman, a silly and bald baker. And what happened? They became best friends of course! 

“Duff Goldman by far is the most genuine person alive. Duff and Madison hit it off immediately and she didn’t ever want to leave. One of the sweetest moments was when they got in a mini food fight. Duff covered her chef jacket with chocolate and jam, said you can’t trust a chef with a clean jacket. Madison never wants to wash it!” 

Madison and her family enjoyed baking time with Duff, exploring Universal Studios, riding in limos and exploring some of California’s yummy eats. “To think where we were a year ago. The whole trip was surreal. We made some pretty awesome memories that we will never forget, none of us will ever be the same.”

And that’s what Make-A-Wish does, they create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. The positive impact wishes give to kids and their families are invaluable.

For the second year, the Isabella Santos Foundation ran an online March fundraiser in honor of what would have been Isabella’s birthday month, that fundraiser directly impacted Madison’s wish trip.  Make-A-Wish granted Isabella her wish and gave her the best days of her life as well as giving her family the best memories of theirs. Honoring Isabella’s birthday by providing the same for another cancer fighter is exactly what she would love!  

Thank you for supporting the Isabella Santos Foundation, we can’t express enough how much your support inspires us to do more for these cancer warriors and their families. You helped make a little girl’s dream come true and it will be something that will stay with her forever. 

Photos of Madison’s Wish Trip:

A Baking Wish Trip of a Lifetime

Madison is headed to L.A. to bake with Duff Goldman of Kids Baking Championship and you helped make that happen!  Remember Isabella’s Birthday Wish Fundraiser in March? Well, we love when things come around full circle.  The timing was just right when we gifted $6,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to go towards a child’s wish… Madison’s wish!  

Isabella and Madison have so many similarities and baking is one of them!  To be able to use Isabella’s birthday fundraiser to help send Madison off on this baking wish trip is crazy!  It gives us goosebumps!  6 1/2 years ago Isabella was given the opportunity to bake cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery while in New York City for scans.  On this day her parents learned that Isabella’s cancer had spread to her brain.  Although her story did not have a happy ending, we work passionately every day to help other kids fighting cancer live out the happy endings they deserve.  And we appreciate you helping us do that in Isabella’s name.  

This morning we were able to attend Madison’s Wish Party at CPCC’s Culinary Arts Center.  Talk about kicking the week off right! We had the best time watching Madison and her sister, Riley, create pastries and pinwheels.  We visited with her family, the Make-A-Wish team and enjoyed watching her Wish Grantors, Peanut Butter & Shelly, smile among them.  Madison and her family head off to L.A. in 2 weeks and we can’t wait to share details and photos from their trip!  It’s beyond cool to be able to share the stories and show you the impact of your donations!

Madison was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in April of 2018 at five years old. She finished treatment at Levine Children’s in February 2019 and has since had very positive scans showing no cancer!  This brave girl has come such a long way in a very short period of time and is currently working hard to be off her walker and use her leg.  She has so much to look forward to! Read Madison’s Full Story

Isabella Would Have Been 14

Written by Erin Santos, ISF Executive Director & President

6 years ago you couldn’t pay me to sit and have coffee with a little girl who beat cancer and was also Isabella’s age.  No Thank You!  But time has passed and now I find myself being eager to be in the presence of 13 and 14-year-old girls.  I’m constantly wondering what they are into, how they behave and what they say.  So when I got the opportunity to meet Sydney, who beat cancer last year I was excited about our meet and greet.  Side note, we also helped fund her Make-A-Wish trip to go to London for the ultimate Harry Potter experience.  Another side note, Sidney’s sister was in Grant’s preschool class at Calvary when Isabella was diagnosed and fighting.  We had no clue at the time of raising funds for her trip that it was for a girl who we once had this connection with. Full circle.

This girl was precious… like beyond precious.  She was beautiful and mature and wise beyond her years.  I find these are all traits of a child who has stared death in the eye more than once.  I couldn’t stop listening to her talk and was consumed with the fact that she let her mom dote on her and play with her hair while she talked to us.  Any other teen would have swatted her Mom’s hand away.  But I feel like Sydney allowed it because she knew her Mom too went through something and knows she is lucky to be alive.  

I loved listening to her talk about the doctors and procedures and how it really felt to go through all her treatment.  And then I asked the question, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?”  Such an innocent question but as she answered, I felt a lump in my throat and the tears beginning to swell.  So jealous that she can answer this question and how I craved being able to ask it of my own daughter.   No matter how much I try to hide the pain, this family knows that no longer how much time has passed or how good I say I’m doing now – they really are the lucky ones.  They are in fact sitting with a Mom who should have a daughter sitting along with us.  Who knows, they could have even been friends.

Sydney immediately came to my side and put her arms around me and started to cry.  It was so touching to me.  I don’t know if she was crying because she was sad for me or sad for Isabella or wondering how she survived and Isabella didn’t.  It could have been a number of things but I have to say that it has been years since someone touched me in that way.  The hug lasted a long time.  For those of you who know me – that means it was over 5 seconds.  But his hug lasted for minutes.  I tried to release her but she wouldn’t let go.  It was if she knew I needed it.  She was right.

I don’t know what Sydney’s life has ahead for her, but I know it’s going to be amazing.  I’m excited to sit back and watch because this girl deserves every single minute of it and I know she will live it not only for her and her family but for some of those who didn’t get the chance to live it and I love that.  It makes me think that while some weren’t meant to survive, she is one that was meant to live.   Isabella’s birthday is in March. We can’t think of a better gift than to honor another child’s wish in honor of Isabella’s life. 

It is our goal to raise $6,000 in 14 days for what would have been Isabella’s 14th birthday.  14 years old… just like Sydney. Last year, you helped us make Sydney’s wish to visit the Harry Potter museum in London come true.  Sidney has finished treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and recently ‘Rang the Bell’ in December 2018 at Levine Children’s Hospital signifying the beginning of living life cancer free.

Make-A-Wish granted Isabella her wish and gave her the best days of her life.  Make-A-Wish also gave her family the best memories of theirs.  The positive impact wishes give to kids and their families are invaluable.  Sydney and her family experienced the same.

We hope you will help us pass this on yet again. Please donate to help another child’s wish come true.  Donations of all values will help us collectively reach the $6,000 fundraising goal and will be gifted to the Make-A-Wish foundation to go towards a child’s wish.  

Isabella’s Birthday Wish Fundraiser

Isabella’s birthday is in March. We can’t think of a better gift than to honor another child’s wish in honor of Isabella’s life.  It is our goal to raise $6,000 in 14 days for what would have been Isabella’s 14th birthday.

Last year, you helped us make Sydney’s wish to visit the Harry Potter museum in London come true.  Sydney is currently 14 years old, finished treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and recently ‘Rang the Bell’ in December 2018 at Levine Children’s Hospital signifying the beginning of living life cancer free. Isabella’s mom, Erin, recently sat down with Sydney to hear all about her trip.

Make-A-Wish granted Isabella her wish and gave her the best days of her life.  Make-A-Wish also gave her family the best memories of theirs.  The positive impact wishes give to kids and their families are invaluable.  Sydney and her family experienced the same. We hope you will help us pass this on yet again.

Please donate to help another child’s wish come true.  Donations of all values will help us collectively reach the $6,000 fundraising goal and will be gifted to the Make-A-Wish foundation to go towards a child’s wish. 

Magical Moments

A very special group of people sent the Santos family on their last Disney trip with Isabella right before she passed away. They knew that her most favorite memories were in Disney… and were determined to give Isabella and her family one last magical moment together. Isabella could barely get out of bed a good bit of the trip, but there were times the magic brought her out of her pain for just a few moments. Here she is watching fireworks right outside her balcony.

“We even decided to take her there just a couple of weeks before she passed away. Make-A-Wish has made this place the one place in the world that brought her the most happiness. We saw the impact that a wish trip had on her mental and physical state, as well as the rest of us. It made miracles happen for us – so many times.”

13-year old Sidney is fighting cancer… and we want to help bring her happiness too! From one magical moment to another, our hearts swell to think that we all could play a part in her WISH to visit the Harry Potter museum in London. We still have $3,000 left to raise to reach the $6,000 fundraising goal by March 31.  DETAILS and DONATE.

LETS BECOME A WISHMAKER TOGETHER IN HONOR OF ISABELLA!