Fighting for her life: McKinze Clayton diagnosed with 2nd cancer - but there's still hope

A glimmer of hope on the horizon

TAMPA - We've been following the story of little McKinze Clayton, the 7 year-old Polk County girl who has been very, very sick with a  blood and bone marrow disease - the same as GMA's Robin Roberts - myelodyplastic syndrome.

Linda Hurtado brought you her story in January while she was waiting for a bone marrow donor (see http://wfts.tv/XLS04h ). 

But the same day that Linda visited, doctors gave the family more devastating news – McKenzie had a 2nd cancer - Acute myeloid leukemia  Another roadblock to overcome.

Little Mckinze endured 2 rounds of chemotherapy, which the doctors felt confident would put her in remission and clear the way for the bone marrow transplant. 

But then a new roadblock appeared - literally.  A small scratch on McKinze's head developed into a very serious fungal infection.  That fungal infection grew into a large sore on her forehead and even after surgeons removed the infection from her forehead,  the infection had spread into her blood stream affecting her liver and lungs.

McKinze's doctors at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando were so concerned about treating this infection in a pediatric double cancer patient that they consulted with doctors at Duke University as well as in Australia.  They decided on a course of antibiotics and the family held their breath in hopes that this would stop the fungus from growing. 

The past few months have been grueling for this cowgirl from Polk County who can crack a 10-foot bull whip like a pro.  While the family has never given up hope, they were starting to fear the worst. 

But late last week a glimmer of hope started to emerge. 

The antibiotics appears to be working  - the fungus has stopped growing.  Now it's up to McKinze's body to start making her own while blood cells to actually get rid of the fungus in her body.  Because the chemo depleted her body of her white blood cells, this process is slow going, so every day she is getting daily donor white blood cells.

With the antibiotics kicking in, McKinze has started to feel better and on Friday the family finally received some joyous news:  the chemotherapy worked and McKinze is leukemia free!  McKinze has cleared a huge roadblock.

If McKinze can get her white blood cell count up and the fungus clears her body, she will finally be able to get the bone marrow transplant that she so badly needs.  While all this was going on a bone marrow donor has been found. So now the family waits.

Friends of the family have been holding fundraisers to help McKinze's parents with expenses.  The expense of going back and forth to both Orlando and Tampa for blood transfusions is taking a toll. Dad is a loader on a farm in Lake Wales and mom is at home with the kids.

The next fundraiser is Saturday night, June 22 at the House of Blues! Jill's Cashbox in concert with Clemons Road opening the show! If you get your tickets from any of our team, YOU GET IN FREE!! ALL PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT McKinze's Crusade and her family!  

For more information  https://www.facebook.com/#!/McKinzesCrusade?fref=ts

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