‘MaKayla Strong’: Community rallies around Roanoke 8-year-old with cancer

She was diagnosed with stage four cancer

MaKayla hurt her arm playing hockey earlier this year. It seemed like a common childhood injury at first, but when the bump didn’t go down, her parents found out something was very wrong.

ROANOKE, Va. – MaKayla Russell is a very active girl.

“I like to swing, I like to swim,” said MaKayla.

But out of her many hobbies, her favorite is hockey.

“I like to play Barbies, I like to play with my cats. I love hockey,” she added.

The eight-year-old is the youngest of three with two older brothers, Owen and Wyatt, to always look out for her. She and Wyatt share a love for the game.

“They play great together, they play hockey together. There’s that brother-sister love, they battle back and forth,” said MaKayla’s dad, Gary.

MaKayla hurt her arm playing hockey earlier this year. It seemed like a common childhood injury at first, but when the bump didn’t go down, her parents found out something was very wrong.

“They decided they need to do an MRI, they did that. They did a biopsy a few days later and found out it was cancer,” added Gary.

Many more tests followed. The diagnosis was worse than they originally thought.

“She’s gone through PET scan, CT, bone marrow biopsies, lymph node biopsy, all that coming back, she’s in stage four cancer,” said MaKayla’s mom, Tanya.

Doctors found cancer in her arm, bone marrow and lymph nodes.

“Your heart sinks. You kind of clam up. It’s tough,” Gary said.

But they aren’t alone. MaKayla’s family is staying positive with the help of friends and the hockey community, whose endless support has already raised thousands of dollars for MaKayla’s long road ahead.

“Amazing, completely heartwarming, and thank you just doesn’t cover what we have felt from the hockey family,” Tanya expressed.

A little girl with a big personality and a fighting spirit. As she prepares to face the biggest opponent yet, she knows there’s a whole team of people who have her back.

If you’d like to donate, you can find her GoFundMe here.


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