In January 2008, Amy Stoen and her husband, Randy, noticed a cyst inside their 3-year-old daughter's nose. Doctors in their small Minnesota community were unable to determine a cause, so they referred Madelaine and her parents to the Mayo Clinic, an internationally renowned medical center.
Less than two months later, doctors diagnosed Madelaine with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that had spread to the left side of her face. To try to save her life, doctors started chemotherapy right away. "It's hard because I can't do anything for her to take that pain away," Amy says. "She's going to have to do this for a year, and it's going to be a long year."
To get the treatments she needs to survive, Madelaine's parents drive her more than 100 miles a day to Saint Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. Amy says her daughter has already lost almost 10 pounds since her diagnosis. The side effects of the chemo are also starting to show. Madelaine is now losing her hair. "Once she loses her hair, it's really going to set in that she has cancer," Amy says.