At just 7, Madison Cavanaugh has endured more than her youth belies. She battled cancer at age 4, enduring chemotherapy for two years. Now cancer free, she says she is trying to “fit in everything I missed out on when I was sick.” She’s a Girl Scout, and takes dance lessons and plays softball. “I really enjoy being around other people.” While she still visits All Children’s Hospital every other month to “make sure I am OK,” Madison sees a bright future ahead.
What makes you happy?
I love being with my family and friends. Having the opportunity to play with my cousins in Canada also makes me happy. We went to Canada for Christmas this year and it was my first time ever seeing snow. I really like talking and visiting with people because being around others makes me happy.
Who is your biggest inspiration or role model?
Vinny Lecavalier is a role model of mine. Even though he is a popular hockey player, he makes time to visit with kids who look up to him. I met him in the beginning of my cancer journey and I feel like he is a big brother looking out for me. He is very kind and I like to talk to him about his family.
I’d have to say my mom is a big inspiration to me as well. She takes care of me. She was in charge of giving me many of my medicines when I was sick and she loves me very much. She sat by my bed when I was sick in the hospital. I want to be just like her when I grow up.
What is your favorite thing to do with your family?
I like to be outdoors. I enjoy camping, swimming and bike riding with my family. Game night is also a favorite of mine to do with my family.
What advice do you have for girls your age?
My advice for girls my age would be to keep strong and confident in whatever you do. I am a cancer survivor. I had to learn to cope with some not so nice things being done to me, but I had to do it in order to live. Put yourself around positive, nice and helpful friends and you will stay a happy girl.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I would like to do many things. I would maybe like to work in a store where there is a cash register when I am in high school to make some money. Then I would like to be a nurse, doctor or a surgeon. I would like to help kids that have cancer so I would like to be something in the medical field.
What is your favorite way to relax?
I like to relax by reading a good book.
If you could change the world in one way, what would it be?
I would make sure that no kid like me has to go through cancer. I would make the world cancer free.
What does Girl Scouts of America mean to you?
Girls Scouts of America means Girls getting together, learning together and having fun together. I have been a Girl Scout since I was 5. I started as a Daisy. I am now a Brownie.
What is your favorite experience?
My favorite experience would be encampment. We go to Camp Wai Lani and do fun activities during the day. I really liked shooting the bow and arrow. We also did a dress up relay. I also got to sleep over in a cabin in the woods this year.
What message do you want to share with other girls and families?
Girl scouting is a fun activity to be involved in. You get to experience a bit of everything. Learning about new things, trying new things and having fun while doing it.
Tell us about your community projects.
My Girl Scout troop has done some fun community projects. We have helped out the church where we have our meetings by providing food for a program called pack a sack, which puts nutritious snacks in kids’ backpacks that don’t have access to good foods and for the kids that go to school hungry. We have helped clean up McGough Nature Park by picking up garbage around the park as well as we just recently did a planting project to help put new trees and flowers in the ground. That was fun because we got to use rakes and shovels and dig in the dirt. At Christmastime, we also participated in a program called Operation Christmas Child, where we packed shoeboxes to send to kids in countries where they don’t have much of anything. I’m sure that put a smile on the kids’ faces.
Personally, I have completed some community projects as well. I have spoken at different events for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. I have also shared my story with people who donate to Florida Blood Services. I had many blood transfusions when I was sick. I like to thank them for donating blood. Their donation helped keep me alive when I was battling cancer.