Every year since she was born, Caedyn Waxman walked in and out of her annual checkup happy and healthy.
Until the summer of 2017, when she was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma at age 7.
“In the blink of an eye, we were in the exact opposite situation,” said Waxman’s mom, Courtney Chesser. “You’re thinking about the fact that your child has malignant cancer in her mouth.”
Waxman had developed a large, hardened mass inside her mouth, and after the tissue was biopsied, Chesser learned of her daughter’s cancer diagnosis over the phone while at work.
“I ended up having my dad come pick me up because I couldn’t drive,” Chesser said.
Hearing that her daughter had cancer was difficult, but the truly unfathomable thought was how she was going to explain this to her.
After a few days, Chesser did her best to help Waxman understand the journey they now were on to get her back to good health. It wasn’t easy, and Waxman didn’t understand much of it at the time. The most important thing Chesser relayed to her daughter was that they would get through it together. She wasn’t alone.
“I don’t wish it upon anybody,” Chesser said.
The time Waxman spent playing soccer and cooking now would be spent visiting doctors and in surgery having her tumors removed. Slowly, Waxman’s normally outgoing personality became withdrawn.
All of that changed on Waxman’s dream trip to Florida, granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“I was super excited when they came to my house,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but I did know I wanted Disney World involved with it.”
Waxman’s trip with her family began with a limo ride to the airport before the sun came up.
After landing, they went straight to Give Kids the World Village, a resort that provides an escape for children facing critical illnesses and their families.
From sun up to sun down, Waxman was showered with love and attention, which her mother said she needed and adored receiving.
“Everybody who works there volunteers,” Chesser said. “It’s all about her or the child there. She would get something every day. It’s all about Caedyn this or Caedyn that, which, if you know Caedyn, she loves that.”
Waxman and her family also got to experience every theme park at Disney World during their visit.
By the end, Waxman was smiling the same way she had before her diagnosis.
“Hopefully, we’re going to go back down to Florida and volunteer at Give Kids the World in the future because it was a really great experience,” Chesser said.
Waxman has been cancer-free for over a year now. She has returned to the soccer field and is back cooking recipes from her favorite cookbook, “Unicorn Food.”
Watching her daughter experience the excruciating effects of cancer was at times more than Chesser could bare. After making it to the other side of Waxman’s diagnosis, she has one message for families experiencing that same pain.
“You’re not alone,” Chesser said.