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As June 18th quickly approaches, one local family is preparing to celebrate the birth of their first born, for the first time without her. Mikayla Quindoy, a sweet and gifted 7-year-old little girl who attended Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary in Pearland, passed away December 10, 2015 from a rare form of brain cancer, DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma).
DIPG is a disease that is known to strike at the heart of childhood, and has no known cure. It affects the area of the brainstem, called the pons, which controls many of the body’s vital functions such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. Being that the tumor is located in the pons, it renders the nervous system helpless. Rapidly developing symptoms may include problems controlling eye movements, facial expressions, speech, chewing, and swallowing (due to problems in the cranial nerves); weakness in the arms and legs, as well as problems with walking and coordination. The symptoms typically progress rapidly because the tumor grows at an aggressive rate.
Mikayla was diagnosed on December 31, 2014 at the young age of 6, after her family noticed that her vision was deteriorating and she was having regular headaches, as well as left-sided weakness and the inability to balance herself. Upon official diagnosis, she immediately began receiving cancer fighting treatments, which included radiation therapy, chemotherapy and steroid treatments.
According to her father, Rodney Quindoy, “Mikayla was the testament of strength and determination.” Not knowing her official diagnosis because her parents opted not to tell her, but understanding that she was indeed ill, Mikayla fought daily to overcome her illness.
“Miraculously she recovered briefly, regaining full vision and the ability to walk independently, and function like any care-free 6-year-old child,” said her father, Rodney.
The young girl who was terminally ill reached a great milestone six months after her diagnosis, when she was able to celebrate her 7th birthday during the month of June. She was doing so well in fact, that she even had the opportunity to travel to Cancun, Mexico with her family, and then celebrate once more with a swim party, joined by her loving classmates, friends and family.
“This was such a joyous time for us, to be able to see our little girl enjoying herself, during what seemed like a healthy, care free brief period of time,” added Quindoy.
Unfortunately, the following month Mikayla’s symptoms came back with a vengeance. Her arms became weak, and she had limited movement in her right eye. Within a month’s time her symptoms worsened and she lost the ability to walk or function independently. At that point the only thing her family knew to do was garner strength through their faith and love for one another.
Mikayla would go on to live the remainder of her life to the fullest, by becoming an honorary member of the Manvel High School Majestics Dance Team, visiting her favorite water park, Great Wolf Lodge, in Grapevine Texas, and even spending time with JJ Watt of the Houston Texans during a charity event, to name a few. Her parents’ most memorable and proudest moment however is that of her receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion at her home church of Sacred Heart Church of Manvel.
To allow Mikayla’s legacy to live on, her family allowed the Pearland based public charity, KidsRStrong2, to name their scholarship program in her honor: Mikayla’s Scholars.
“Mikayla loved attending school and learning new things daily, which is why we were thrilled and thought that it was fitting for the KidsRStrong2 scholarship program to be named in her honor,” Rodney Quindoy said.
“We are forever thankful and express endless gratitude for this kind jester that will preserve Mikayla’s memory and legacy for years to come,” said Melissa Quindoy, mother of Mikayla.
For additional information and/or to make a monetary donation to the Mikayla’s Scholars Scholarship Fund, in honor of Mikayla Quindoy, visit www.kidsrstrong2.org.