Madison’s Moment (from Johnson & Wales News Release)
Charlotte, N.C. – May 12, 2015 – 21-year-old Madison Merrifield has been waiting for this moment for more than 10 years. And it’s not just graduation. It’s a smile. A special *new* smile. Madison beat a rare childhood cancer years ago, and she recently underwent surgery to fix what the cancer surgery left behind. When she was just eight, she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma of the left maxilla. She had tumors in her left sinus and jaw. Madison endured chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries that took all the bone from under her left eye, cheek and maxillary sinus, so she lost her teeth on the left side of her mouth.
Madison knew it would take an army to help eradicate the pain as well as making it easier for her to eat. Claire’s Army, a non-profit that provides support for families fighting childhood cancer, helped her find doctors who would take part of her lower leg bone and veins from her neck to place in her upper jaw. She will eventually receive dental implants, but for now, what she calls her temporary teeth will be just fine. Madison found out the day before surgery that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital would pick up the cost of her surgery. Donors have also generously given to her GoFundMe account that will help cover costs after surgery.
It will have been just 25 days since her surgery when graduation day arrives. On Saturday, May 23, Madison will proudly stand with nearly 650 of her Johnson & Wales University classmates. She will walk across the Time Warner Cable Arena stage, clutch her diploma and turn to the face the camera – with a big, new smile on her face.