A North Texas 5th grader is re-defining the word “strength” after not only beating cancer, but becoming an advocate for others fighting the same battle.
Peyton Frederick was diagnosed at age eight with non-Hodgkin large B-cell lymphoma.
His mother, Leslie Perez, said they first thought he had an ear infection.
“We had been dealing with an ear infection that was not healing. We went back to the pediatrician who noticed swollen tonsils and adenoids. He referred us to an ENT, ” said Perez. “We ended up going to an ENT. They asked us to go to the hospital and run a scan and we did. That’s when I got the news that it was more than an earache and a mass.”
More tests revealed large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a cancer of the lymphatic system. It develops when the body makes abnormal B lymphocytes.
“It was extremely hard and how were we going to tell Peyton that he had cancer and what was he going to face moving forward?” said Perez.
“I was kinda scared because like, it could take people away I didn’t know if I was gonna survive,” said Peyton.
However, he says a book about Major League Baseball Player Anthony Rizzo gave him hope. Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and went through six months of chemotherapy to beat the cancer.
“I said, if he had cancer and he could beat it, I could beat it too,” said Peyton.
Peyton said he stayed as strong as he could through rounds of chemo and surgery. Plus, he had a team of warriors behind him.
“He made the decision to shave his own head,” said Perez about Peyton after he learned he’d lose his hair during chemotherapy. “He took the clippers and said, ‘How about you, Daddy?’ Daddy said absolutely. He took the opportunity and shaved his head as well. I think that was just a big moment that Peyton knew that he wasn’t alone and that we were all in it together,” said Perez.
By the end of that year, Peyton won and now, he’s the face of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s upcoming fundraiser, Light The Night.
“Our Dare to Dream Project is our pediatric initiative. We’re raising $175 million to find safer treatments for our children. Leukemia is the most common form of cancer in children. Peyton’s the reason why we do what we do,” said Leah Swanson, Executive Director, LLS Red River Region
You can help Peyton’s team of warriors at this year’s Light The Night event. You can find information here.
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