Through the Children’s Dream Fund, I have had the incredible honor of connecting with a family that has endured so much. When the chances of survival were statistically low, where the critical number of perfectly matched stem cells were extraordinarily high, Sadie can say today that her battle is won.
Because of the grace of God, the effectiveness of her treatments, the persistence and commitment of her medical team and the love of her family, Sadie Dutton’s story is one of hope. Here, meet this courageous Kid to Know, and savor that success and triumph are absolutely meant to be for our local children.
Please share your experience with Ewing sarcoma. When were you diagnosed and what makes your story different from other cases?
Sadie Dutton: I was only 12. My Ewing case was different due to where my tumor was located. It originated on my back ribs and grew inward. It was about the size of a small grapefruit once they found it. It had “tentacles” that branched out towards my spine, heart and esophagus. It had attached to my right lung as well.
What challenges have been the greatest since your diagnosis? In those times, what has motivated you to keep fighting?
Sadie Dutton: Being confined to home has been the hardest challenge due to my weak immune system. I’m a black belt in mixed martial arts so I’ve always been very athletic. Slowing down was tough. The side effects of chemo too: losing my hair, vomiting and overall just feeling lousy. The mental toll it takes on you is hard to navigate as well. I’m currently working through some PTSD, and I feel it’s important to know it’s okay to admit these things.
What has motivated me to keep fighting? God. I talk to Him often. My faith has become so much stronger. There have been too many times to count that God intervened. No coincidence, just God. I also have three cats at home and they are so loving. They make quarantine at home a bit better.
How has being a black belt in martial arts been instrumental in your journey?
Sadie Dutton: My tumor was very large. The surgeon stated that my athletic build contributed to it being operable! It was borderline inoperable. I had a 10 1/2 hour surgery on one lung.
Who played a part in helping you get to this place of complete clinical remission?
Sadie Dutton: Dr. Fitzwater was the surgeon that removed my tumor. He, along with all of my St Joseph’s Hospital oncologists and nurses, saved me from Ewing sarcoma. My two favorite nurses, Kenzie and Hailey, have to get a shout-out too!
Fast forward to needing a bone marrow transplant—there was a PFT nurse that was able to help me calm down enough to pass my PFTs. This was imperative because I had to pass them to have the transplant, and the first time I took them, I failed. It’s a test to show how strong your lungs are. My doctors and nurses at Advent Health, and of course, my brother, Sean, saved my life from leukemia.
Tell us about your experience with Children’s Dream Fund. What was your dream and what happened?
Sadie Dutton: My dream was to meet Gordon Ramsay. My mom and dad tricked me and said my dad was doing an honorary race (he drives sprint cars for fun) in my honor in Las Vegas. I had no idea that the Children’s Dream Fund had set everything up!
I met Gordon at Hell’s Kitchen, and we ate all of his popular dishes. He gave me a chef’s jacket, FaceTimed his wife and daughters, TikTok’d with me, and gave me a signed book as well.
We also ate at the Hard Rock Cafe one day where our waiter was a cancer survivor too! We call that a “Godwink.” This trip breathed so much life back into me, into all of us!
How does it feel to have a dream come true while you are undergoing treatment? Why do you think organizations like the Children’s Dream Fund are important for our local kids?
Sadie Dutton: They brought me out of a chronic dark place. I had forgotten what life was like outside of a hospital. Flying to Vegas and meeting Gordon Ramsay was also, in a way, lifesaving. It reestablished my will to fight. They set up everything to run so smoothly! I believe in them so much that I raise money for them myself through my dad’s sprint car. You can follow us on our TikTok: Dutton.racing.
What does everyday life look like now?
Sadie Dutton: It’s still one day at a time, but the days are much sweeter. I am blessed and thankful to be alive and hopefully an inspiration to other kids going through something similar. I’m still quarantined until June of 2024, but that will be here soon enough. Until then, I enjoy each day at home with my family.
In your opinion, what is the best part about living in the greater Tampa Bay area?
Sadie Dutton: We have the BEST oncology team at St Joseph’s Children’s hospital! There is also so much to do outside here. It’s so beautiful, even if it’s just taking a walk.
Originally published in the December 2023 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.