Danbury 3-Year-Old Faces Cancer

March 07, 2012  |  Posted by Mark Langlois

What looked like asthma seven months ago turned out to be cancer growing inside three-year-old Mackenzie Newsome of Danbury.

Mackenzie Newsome, 3, of Danbury, is not comfortable. Sure Dora the Explorer is on the television, and Snow White and Jasmine are nearby. Mommy (Melissa Newsome) and Mi Ma (Grandmother Nancy Lahoud) are right there, but MacKenzie Newsome is in trouble.

By November, the back pain started, and it was put down to asthma. Asthma medicine helped a little bit, but then it didn't help. Try Advil. It didn't help. Could it be a sinus infection?

"We kept saying there was something wrong," Melissa Newsome recalls. "You trust your doctor, but we all had a bad feeling."

Since August, Mackenzie lost eight pounds. She now weighs 28 pounds. She sits curled up in her New Haven hospital room chair, facing the back with a blanket covering her completely. She looks like a rather small pillow until she finally turns around after two hours of bothersome visitors and smiles at the thought she looks like Jasmine.

She started to sweat a lot, and complaining of back pain, chest pain and breathing problems. It wasn't until Feb. 28 that physicians at Yale New Haven's Children's Hospital saw the real culprit.

It is a soft-ball sized tumor in the area of her thalmus gland. It is cancer and it grew to the point it is pressing against other organs in her chest. The CAT scan also found nodules in her lungs.

"The floor dropped out from under us," said Melissa, who is taking an unpaid family medical leave from her nursing job at Danbury Hospital. She also teaches dance at Lori's Center Stage. Mackenzie's father Michael is a winter season truck driver for Danbury Public Works and he will be laid off for the season this month.

A host of fundraisers to help with the medical expenses are planned or are about to be planned around Danbury. The Highway Department is sponsoring a pasta dinner on March 31 at the Moose Lodge to help pay the medical expenses. For information, see the attached PDF. On Friday, dancers from Lori's Center State and other students were wearing blue or ribbons in honor of Mackenzie.

Nancy Lahoud said Escape Spa in Bethel is planning a fund raiser, and this is the details of the fundraiser posted on the facebook page, "A Prayer for Mackenzie Newsome."

has teamed up with Take Time Relaxation Center in Bethel. The Cut-A-Thon for Mackenzie will now have massages available. Escape also opened up their spa for maniucures, pedicures and much more. 100% of the proceeds are going to Mackenzie. It is scheduled for April 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 232 Greenwood Ave. in Bethel. No appointment needed, call the salon if you have any questions. 203-798-9882.

A T-shirt is being designed for Mackenzie by Vision Designs of Danbury, where Judie O'Donnell works. O'Donnell is Mackenzie's aunt.

"The girls at Lori's want to wear the T-shirts to honor Mackenzie in competition," O'Donnell said. "We just want to get Mackenzie better."

As of Monday at noon, the doctors were waiting for the results of the second biopsy to figure out exactly what kind of cancer it is. Once they know the type, they will start to treat it. Mackenzie won't start treatment until that is known either later today or tomorrow.

All morning long, physicians, nurses or technicians were coming in, and each visitor talks to Mackenzie to explain what they're doing - they're cleaning the bathroom, they want to check her hearing, give her pain medicine, check her vital signs. That's a lot for a 3-year-old to deal with.

"No, not good, not good Mommy," and her mother said, "I know it's not OK Mackenzie. We talked about it. We know it's not OK."

"We have new toys, you want to look at them?" her mother asks.

"I don't want to look at it. I don't want to. Hug me, Mommy."

Mommy hugged her through the ear test. The ear test is finally over. Mackenzie remains facing the seatback.

"Mi Ma? Where's Mi Ma?"

"Mi Ma's right here," Nancy Lahoud said. She and Melissa haven't left Yale New Haven since Tuesday when they learned about the tumor.

Melissa Newsome said the hospital psychiatrist visited and explained her daughter's behavior. Since everything else is out of her control, Mackenzie still has control over her words. She has to be coaxed to talk to people, look at people, or say thank-you for presents.

Mi Ma says that isn't the same child enrolled in a program this fall at Mill Ridge Primary School that brings together special needs students to study with main-stream students willing to talk and learn and be friendly with a diverse group of students. Mackenzie interviewed to get into the program.

Mackenzie is pleased to see a new book called, "5 Minute Princess Stories."

"That's my favorite," Mackenzie said. "My back, Mommy. I need a hug."

She had a cough and the sound of her voice had changed in August in time for her 3-year-check up. Nothing wrong with that, nurses said.

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