Eight-year-old Camdyn Dunn isn’t mad about having cancer. Instead, as she swivels in a chair at Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Smilow Cancer center, she says she’s mad that she missed the ice cream truck at camp because she had to receive her weekly chemotherapy treatment.
Since May, Camdyn has been receiving six ounces of a chemotherapy drug once a week to keep her cancer at bay. Her mom, Rachel, said as she sat on the doctor’s table next to her daughter, “It used to be six days a week, 24 hours a day, seven different chemos and now it’s just one, which is such a relief.”
Camdyn was first with stage four anaplastic large-cell lymphoma back in December 2010. Doctor’s treated Camdyn intensely and Rachel said they were hopeful that she would receive her treatment in April.
Around Mother’s Day, Rachel learned that Camdyn’s cancer had come back in the form of skin lesions. Through consultation with Camdyn’s doctor, Paul Jubinsky, Rachel learned that Camdyn is in a small percentage of lymphoma patients who can not be cured but who can survive if given regular chemotherapy treatments.
Though the battle is not over yet – Camdyn will mostly likely need a bone marrow transfusion in the future – life is getting back to normal (ish) for the blonde-haired mother and daughter duo.
Camdyn has gotten used to traveling to the hospital weekly and has gotten her routine down to a science. She's so familiar with the weekly visits that she tells the nurses when she’s ready for treatment and she assists them with tasks to make the experience more manageable. “She’s just so determined to be so independent,” Rachel said.
Karen Clarke, RN, said Camdyn is her only patient who flushes her own port herself. A port, shared Camdyn, is the place where her body is “accessed” to receive chemotherapy. When the chemo is done, Camdyn flushes her port with a saline solution, which burns and can be tasted in her mouth.
“I don’t know what’s tougher,” stated Rachel, “the cancer or Camdyn?”
When Camdyn was first diagnosed, Rachel said she was devastated. “It’s horrifying. You feel, not hopeless, but you realize there are things bigger than you. I realized that there is something bigger than me that I can’t stop to protect her.”
Though Rachel has had to learn to let Camdyn be Camdyn and let things take their course, she said she still treats her daughter a lot like she did before the cancer.
“She still gets time outs,” said Rachel, “because she’s a normal kid.”
How she’s kept going, towing Camdyn around to treatments and trying to keep life as normal as she can anticipating Camdy's return to fourth grade at l in September, Rachel said she just does it.
“If it were myself, I don’t think I would have stood up for myself but for Camdyn – I’d go through fire for her. She’s my little best friend.”
If interested in helping, please send donations to "CAMDYNS FUND" AT P.O. BOX 775, BRANFORD, CT 06405.