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What Peyton Wants You to Know

December 4, 2015 | Rose Bowl

Wants You to KnowPeyton Richardson says she doesn’t want sympathy from people who read her story. She doesn’t want pity either. What she does ask is for people to better understand what it takes to fight leukemia, specifically how long the fight really is.

A Long Haul

“It’s three years,” says Peyton. “With some other cancers it’s like six months and you’re done. Nobody really gets it that leukemia [treatment] is three years, and then you have yearly checkups for the rest of your life. Nobody gets that.”

Peyton’s oncologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer, admits the treatment for leukemia can be a long and tough road, lasting three years with the first six to nine months being the most brutal. But she says Peyton’s charm has come through at every moment. “Peyton has this incredibly magnetic personality. Bubbly; outgoing; this bright red, carrot-top hair; and, of course, she was worried about losing it and asked me about that; would she lose her hair? I told her, ‘That’s pretty likely.’ I did tell her that in my experimental program with red-headed children, they almost all get their red hair back again. And she assured me she would dye it if it didn't come back red.”

Becoming an Advocate

With or without her carrot top, Peyton is staying focused on becoming an advocate for other children going through the same fight as she is. She wants people to know that “leukemia can come back very quickly, and so that’s why it’s so long [the treatment], and that’s why you have to keep getting these medicines over and over and over again—so it can really, truly knock out all of the cancer.”

Peyton’s mom, Carrie, shares her daughter’s passion for the cause, and she loves the fact that Peyton has embraced the idea of helping to raise people’s awareness of childhood cancers. “She wants people to understand that this did come out of nowhere. But she’s getting better. I think she’s stronger now than she was prior to her diagnosis. She just looks stronger, she feels stronger, and maybe it’s a mental thing, too.”

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