Makenna’s Story

Makenna Ann Massi was a 14-year-old young woman who gained her wings on September 27th, 2018 after a 9-month battle fighting Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). 

Makenna was all about the color purple, scary movies, spicy food, and chocolate cake. She was the biggest and truest fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, her golden doodle Santino was her constant companion, and she had a passion for Tae Kwon Do, earning her a first-degree black belt.  Makenna believed in the power of laughter, the strength of family, and that one day we will find a cure for Childhood Cancer.

In the Spring of 2014, Makenna was diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumor (kidney cancer). She fought and beat it after a 9-month treatment plan consisting of chemotherapy and radiation, and in January 2015, was declared cancer free. 

On December 12, 2017 (as she was approaching the 3-year milestone of being cancer free), we were contacted by Makenna’s oncologists following an unrelated doctor’s appointment. Blood work had shown abnormalities in her platelet count and on December 13th, 2017, it was confirmed that Makenna had developed Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Further tests revealed that this AML was a secondary cancer caused by her treatments in 2014. 

Makenna embarked on a long inpatient treatment plan – including the need for a bone marrow transplant – to cure the AML. After two rounds of chemotherapy, Makenna’s AML was in remission and on March 28th, 2018, Makenna received a bone marrow transplant from her older sister Kayla, who was a perfect match. 

Everything was going according to plan. Makenna returned home on May 23rd, 2018 after 100 nights in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHoP) and she was making great progress through June. The week before the July 4th holiday, Makenna developed complications with her breathing and was put on supplemental oxygen. 

The next 3 months would be marked with numerous admissions to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at CHoP.  The intensity of her treatment had damaged Makenna’s heart and lungs, and she had developed Pulmonary Hypertension (PH).  All the doctor’s attempts to treat the PH were unsuccessful and Makenna’s oxygen needs kept increasing until eventually her body had given up.  On September 27, 2018, we said goodbye to our angel.

Through both cancer journeys, Makenna did everything that was asked by her doctors and never complained. She never stopped fighting, but most importantly never stopped smiling.  Makenna was an amazing young woman.

In 2018, The Fight On Makenna Foundation was established to honor her memory and carry on her strength and fighting spirit to help kids and families facing pediatric cancer.

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