Albion girl, a cancer survivor, tackles life with lots of pep

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 April 2018 at 12:17 pm

‘I got this,’ Madison Muckle, 10, says before taking the basketball court

Photos by Tom Rivers: Madison Muckle, 10, played point guard and liked to match up against the other team’s best player on defense.

ALBION – Madison Muckle won’t back down from a challenge, whether it’s cancer or guarding the opposing team’s best basketball player. She also is determined to learn tap and jazz dance and stay on the honor roll.

“I got this,” Madison declared during a recent girls basketball game, when she was asked to play point guard and run the offense.

Madison, 10, is in fourth grade. She played in a travel girls basketball league for fifth- and sixth-graders. She was one of the smallest players on the court, but she emerged a fan favorite with her hustle and fearlessness.

“That Madison has moxie,” my wife told me after one of our games, when Madison chased down several loose balls.

I was the coach for Madison’s team. My daughter Lucy, a sixth-grader, also was on the team. Albion doesn’t have a third and fourth grade team, so we take some fourth-graders. Madison was one of two from fourth grade on the team. She asked her teammates to call her “M & M.”

I didn’t expect her to be such a sparkplug, to be so tenacious on defense and to drive to the basket so hard against players with significant size advantages. The running jumper became her go-to shot.

During a season-ending basketball tournament at Lyndonville on March 10, the opposing team’s coach picks a player from the other team to recognize for hustle. Madison won the award in one of our games.

Madison Muckle brings the ball up the court during a game in February against the powerful Wilson team.

I remembered Madison from a few years ago when she was battling cancer. Every August her father, Kevin Muckle, organizes the Madisonation golf tournament at Hickory Ridge in Holley. They tend to raise about $7,000 to $10,000 and donate to Camp Good Days, the Ronald McDonald House, the Make-A-Wish Foundation or other local families with a child fighting cancer.

“We try to give back to the people that helped us,” said Jaime Allport, Madison’s mother.

Provided photo: Madison shaved her head when her red hair started to fall out from chemo treatments.

There have now been seven Madisonation golf tournaments. Madison was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when she was 3 years old. The family received the diagnosis on Dec. 27, 2010.

Jaime Allport said her daughter was acting lethargic that December. A lack of pep was unusual for Madison. She had a double-ear infection and was limping around the house. Allport took her to the doctor, and Dr. Satya Sahukar insisted she go to Strong Memorial for more tests.

“Dr. Sahukar moved quickly on it,” Allport said. “We’re very thankful for him.”

On Dec. 27, doctors at Strong determined Madison had cancer and that started 2 ½ years of chemo and treatment, including nine blood transfusions, which Madison called her “Superhero Juice.”

In May 2011, she had her head shaved when her red hair started to fall out. She was bald for about a year.

“She said, ‘It’s just hair, it will grow back,’” her mother recalled.

Madison handled the cancer treatments with courage.

“She is my fighter,” Allport said. “She never gave up.”

Madison also was popular with the nurses and doctors, and made many friends among the other pediatric cancer patients.

“She loved her nurses and doctors,” Allport said. “The staff is amazing.”

The cancer treatments worked and Madison didn’t need a bone marrow transplant. She hasn’t had any side effects since finishing her treatments nearly five years ago.

Her grades are in the 90s, she takes many dance classes, and is a cheerleader, basketball player and is looking forward to the upcoming softball season. She also is a regular at her older brother’s games. Kyle Woolston, 14, plays football, basketball and baseball. When he was in Little League, Madison would run onto the field after a game and zip around the bases.

Madison Muckle is shown at a recent dance class in Albion. She takes several classes led by Rachael Blair at Spotlight Studio.

April 10, 2018 will be a big day for Madison and her family. That will be the five-year anniversary of her last chemo treatment. She hasn’t had any issues or relapses since then.

Allport knows other families haven’t been as fortunate. Many of the children in the hospital with Madison didn’t survive.

Madison, even at age 10, has set a career goal of becoming a doctor and working with children, helping them to overcome an illness.

“When she was going through it, it never phased her,” Allport said. “As she gets older, she realizes how serious it was.”

Allport said the 2 ½ years of fighting cancer has given her daughter plenty of toughness, and also made her more sensitive to others.

“She is definitely more outgoing from being in the hospital so much and meeting the other kids, and making friends,” Allport said. “She also has become very determined. She is strong.”

Madison’s father is working on the next Madisonation golf tournament in August. For information about the tournament, click here.

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