ALTOONA, Iowa –An Altoona teen is fighting cancer for the fifth time in seven years.
Homework can be a big stress for high school students, but Mackenzy Larson has even bigger things on her mind. "Right now, since I had my chemo last week, so my mouth is sore right now, and I'm fatiqued and nauseous sometimes."
She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma when she was nine years old. It's a type of bone cancer. “The way we found out was I played softball for the first time ever." The ball kept hitting her left leg causing pain.
This is now her fifth time fighting cancer. In November, she had her leg amputated. In July she had surgery to remove lesions from both lungs. She's still getting chemotherapy, but since there is currently no evidence of disease, she'd like to try a medicine to hopefully stop the cancer from coming back.
Her mom Deana Taylor said, "Mifamurtide or MePact. It's an immunotherapy drug that's been approved, I believe since 2009 in 40 plus countries, but it's not FDA approved here."
The Food and Drug Administration recently gave Mackenzy special approval to use the drug. Now, her mom is working with insurance to get it covered. She said it is currently being reviewed. The 42 week long treatment costs $95,000 and that doesn't include the cost of administering it in a clinic. They are hopeful Mackenzy will get to start the treatment soon.
"It's hard to beat when you relapse, but if it's going to prolong and have her fulfill her dreams and prolong her life or keep her in remission, it's something we're fighting for," said her mom.
Mackenzy is also fighting for others. She's outgrown her original tee shirt slogan of Team Kenzy, in favor of Mackenzy's Movement. "The movement is to help other people, all the kids like me who are trying to get medication that they need, but it's hard to get."
For now, her goal is to finish high school, work on walking with her prosthetic leg and kick cancer for good.
An organization called Angels for Sam has been helping the family. It's hosting Kenzy's Carnival in the Park on Sunday, October 7th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's at Union Labor Park located at 4640 Morningstar Drive in Des Moines. Activities include inflatables, carnival games, hot dogs, cotton candy and appearances by The Iowa Barnstormers and Avengers of the Knight. Robbie Michael will perform from noon to 3. Tickets are $5 and proceeds will towards Mackenzy's medical expenses.
The Des Moines Rugby Football Club will also host an event to benefit Kenzy. It's the Third Annual Cancer Awareness Rugby Match (With Kenzy!) on September 29th at the Des Moines Rugby Club in West Des Moines. It starts at 11 a.m.