'Princess' realizes her wish after losing kidney to cancer

Princess realizes her wish after losing kidney to cancer
Hayden was diagnosed with a Wilm's tumor at the age of three. She will turn five years old next month. (Source: KAIT)
Hayden was diagnosed with a Wilm's tumor at the age of three. She will turn five years old next month. (Source: KAIT)
Hayden meets the Disney princesses in Orlando. (Source: KAIT)
Hayden meets the Disney princesses in Orlando. (Source: KAIT)
Hayden climbs up in Diana's lap during the interview with her Dad, Lance. (Source: KAIT)
Hayden climbs up in Diana's lap during the interview with her Dad, Lance. (Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Four-year-old Hayden Winford opens the doors of her bedroom closet to reveal a treasure trove of princess dresses, shoes and pictures.

"Belle is my favorite," Hayden said. "She has an apricot face."

If there's one thing that's certain, Hayden has an in-depth knowledge of Disney princesses after her trip to Disney World was made possible by Make-A-Wish.

"She wanted to meet the Disney Princesses," Amber Winford, Hayden's mother said. "She loves Disney Princesses."

"We were able to go down there and visit every single princess at Disney World and go take pictures with them," Lance Winford, Hayden's father said. "We talked with them. Sang with them. You name it, we done it with the princesses!"

It wasn't that long ago that all joy this family of four had known was taken away with two major medical diagnoses in one week.

"I ended up with a pacemaker defibrillator," Lance said.

In one week, Lance had surgery for heart problems. While at home resting, he noticed a bump on Hayden's abdomen. They took her to sick call the very next day.

"Imagine me! I was trying to calm him, his heart," Amber said.

"It's the hardest thing a parent will hear," Lance said.

Even though Amber is a nurse practitioner, she wasn't prepared for the doctor's diagnosis.

"(The doctor) he puts his arm around me and I said, 'It's a Wilm's tumor, isn't it?'" Amber said. "And he says yes, and that's when I lost it."

It was a cancerous tumor in the cells of the kidney.

The surgery to remove Hayden's kidney happened at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Then, the treatment began.

For her parents, it was tough to watch her be so sick.

"I was in a very dark and scary place and I honestly didn't see myself coming out," Amber said. "Many, many times did I question. I promise you."

"Throughout it all, I just kept praying," said Lance.

Christmas arrived, but Hayden was too sick to enjoy it.

"I wanted to see her running out of her room waiting to see what Santa got her and when they're laying in your arms with not enough strength to life her head off the couch, it's tough," Amber said.

Tears falling freely now, Amber remembers that day. Hayden's name was placed on numerous prayer lists.

Hayden started to feel better and one of Amber's friends mentioned that Hayden might qualify for a wish. The suggestion took Amber by surprise.

"Then she reassured me and said Make-A-Wish is not just for terminal patients," she said. "Then everything changed. Some people may be like me and think its only for people with terminal illnesses."

Hayden found out about her wish at a special event staged at International Studies Magnet School. All princesses were in attendance to announce that Hayden would be going to Disney World.

"It was about coming together and getting some time together without anything else. No medicine. No sticking," Amber said. "We had a wonderful time together."

Since that time, Hayden has had two clean scans. No signs of tumors. Her hair grew back, curlier this time.

She's still a princess and her family is thankful for a wish that came just at the right time.

"She knows that somehow that wish came true," Amber said.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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