For six years, Maddie Davis has bravely fought brain cancer.
Though she spent two years cancer-free after her initial surgery and treatment, the tumors returned. And kept returning. Time and again, 11-year-old Maddie has fought back with a smile on her face and remarkable spirit.
But the Hampton girl has now exhausted all treatment options. On Facebook, where her family has chronicled her journey at TeamMaddie Davis, her mother wrote earlier this week that Maddie “is approaching the finish line, soon to be victorious and cancer-free, riding a unicorn through the purple skies of Nonacancerland.”
The past few years have brought forth a huge army of supporters, who have held fundraisers and meal trains, pool parties and “Maddie spirit days” to support the family. Last week, more than 100 vehicles full of #TeamMaddie supporters, led by a caravan of police and fire trucks, paraded through her neighborhood to visit Maddie, as she watched through a window with her parents, Melanie and Ben Davis.
The parade was organized within a few days, with people going all out to decorate their vehicles with signs, streamers and purple balloons, representing Maddie’s favorite color.
“The support for Maddie was amazing to see,” said Lisa Gray, a teacher at Maddie’s elementary school, Armstrong School for the Arts. Gray has been instrumental in organizing many Maddie events, and the school community has backed the family at every step. “At a time like this, when we can’t physically visit and hug Maddie, being able to show her how many people love and support her means so much.”
Diagnosed with ependymoma at 5, Maddie had her first brain surgery soon after at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Radiation treatments followed the surgery. Ependymomas, a type of brain or spinal cord tumors, are relatively rare, with only about 200 new cases each year in the United States. They’re more common in children. When a tumor resurfaced a few years later, Maddie resumed treatments, enrolling in several clinical trials and undergoing more surgeries. A few times, there were indications the cancer was kept at bay.
During the past several years, her family made sure Maddie got to participate in all the experiences she wanted. Most recently, in February, with the help of Camping World of Hampton Roads and #TeamMaddie, the Davises took an RV trip to Miami, Fla., so Maddie and her older brother, Aiden, could see where their parents first met ― a request of Maddie’s.
“The time together has given us peace and strength and instilled even more gratitude for each of the 1,440 minutes of every day,” her mother wrote on Facebook at the time.
Recent days at the Davis household have been quiet, with Maddie sleeping and taking medication to help with symptoms. The quiet was only broken Wednesday, with honking horns and shouts of “We love you, Maddie!” as car after car passed by her window.
The Davises okayed the parade after asking Maddie. “I might like that,” she told them.
“We are eternally and enormously grateful for such a real and visible display of all the love #TeamMaddie has for our perfect girl,” her mom wrote. “Please know we continue to feel the love that has been so freely given and we will spend the rest of our lives sharing love in return. Maddie expects and deserves nothing less.”
Since this story was first published on May 11, Maddie passed away peacefully.
Anyone wishing to help the family can contact Lisa Gray at 757-871-8085 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. TeamMaddie merchandise, including shirts, hoodies, decals and silicone bracelets, is available at https://forms.gle/5Wd9ASNaMJ4mx5iz8, with all proceeds going to the Davis family.
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