In early 2006, three-year-old Payton Wright began complaining of a pain in her knee. Thinking that it was nothing more than growing pains, her parents, Holly and Patrick, took her to the doctor, who told them the pain would probably go away on its own. When it persisted, the Wrights were told that it was probably juvenile arthritis or perhaps diskitis.
After a few weeks with no improvement, Dr. Bob Morelli, the ER doctor at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL ordered an MRI. On May 17, 2006, just weeks after her 4th birthday, Payton was diagnosed with cancer when the MRI revealed a tumor on her spine and pelvis. Always concerned for others, Payton looked at her worried father as she was wheeled into her first surgery and said, "Don't worry Dad. It's gonna be a good day." Payton fought her entire battle with the attitude that every day was going to be a good one.
The doctors determined that Payton had Medulloepithelioma, a very rare form of brain cancer, and one for which there was no treatment protocol and very little hope for recovery. First at All Children's and later at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, doctors pieced together Payton's treatment, which included intense rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.
In August of 2006, Payton was paralyzed from the waist down due to the tumor's compression of her spine. She received as much radiation as a human body can tolerate, but the tumor continued to grow. Payton continued to fight, and she was able to graduate with her pre-school class in May of 2007. However, the cancer continued to spread, and on May 29, 2007, Payton passed away at the age of 5.
Patrick and Holly Wright saw how courageously their daughter fought, and they promised her that they would never stop fighting. The Payton Wright Foundation was created both in Payton's memory and with her fighting spirit so that children with brain cancer will know that "it's gonna be a good day!"
Members of the Wright family kept a blog during Payton's Journey. You can read all of the posts here: