Peyton Unterborn, 7, has big dreams. The second grader at Griffith Elementary School wants to be a police officer when he grows up.
But five years ago, Peyton was too young to realize that his dream to protect and serve could be in jeopardy.
In May of 2008, Peyton began running a high fever, vomiting, and experiencing abdominal pain. Just 2 at the time, Peyton wasn't able to talk much, so his mother took him to the pediatrician several times for his symptoms before the pair ended up in the Emergency Department at Children's Hospital at Erlanger. Peyton's high temperature and abdominal pain prompted the doctors to order a computed tomography scan, which revealed Peyton had a tumor on the left side of his abdomen. Peyton was diagnosed with Stage III, high-risk neuroblastoma.
"I was in complete shock," remembers Peyton's mother, Brandi Griffith, who hadn't heard of neuroblastoma before that day. "I never dreamed I would hear that my child had cancer. I was not prepared for the journey God had placed in front of us."
The Road to Recovery
When God sent Peyton on his long and difficult journey, he also sent an angel in the form of Wendy Ransom, President of Emily's Power for a Cure, who guided Peyton and Brandi along the way.
"Wendy talked to me after Peyton was diagnosed—and my heart just broke for her after hearing her story—but I thought about how awesome it was to see her and Emily's Power for a Cure doing this amazing work for kids like mine. Wendy helped me understand that things were going to be OK, and she was there anytime I needed her and the group."
During the next two years, Peyton had six cycles of chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, and 23 rounds of radiation, and Emily's Power for a Cure was there providing support along the way. While Peyton was an inpatient at the hospital, the group brought small gifts to Peyton and meals to his family, and they provided Brandi with the support she needed as her son was undergoing treatment for his life-threatening condition.
Today, more than five years after his diagnosis, Peyton continues to have no evidence of disease. According to his mother, Peyton is a fun-loving, healthy, and energetic boy who loves to spend time outdoors. Though he undergo scans every six months to monitor his progress, Peyton doesn't need any additional treatment.
"I wish I could go back and watch Peyton enjoy those two years of his life as a normal child, but his diagnosis changed our lives for the positive," Brandi says. "Peyton and I are extremely close, and this journey has made me realize how precious life is. It can change in an instant."