Chandler girl, 7, beat cancer and now runs for charity - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler girl, 7, beat cancer and now runs for charity

March 15th, 2019 development
Chandler girl, 7, beat cancer and now runs for charity

By Colleen Sparks, Managing Editor

An energetic 7-year-old Chandler girl who beat cancer will celebrate her renewed health with her family at the Children’s Cancer Network’s Run to Fight Children’s Cancer.

Gwyn Satterlee will blow the horn at the ninth annual event today, March 16, to boost other cancer survivors including those who are undergoing treatment to beat the disease.

The annual run will take place at Grand Canyon University, 3300 W. Camelback Road in Phoenix. The event is reportedly the biggest race in Arizona dedicated solely to children’s cancer and it will include 10k and 5k races, as well as a quarter-mile Cancer Survivors’ Walk to recognize children who have beaten cancer and those still battling it.

Gwyn was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 4 in 2016, said her mother, Leslie Satterlee, a family law attorney.

Satterlee said Gwyn had a fever one weekend and then a rash was discovered on her neck and “she was sluggish.”

Her husband, Galen Satterlee, also an attorney, took their daughter to her pediatrician and the doctor wanted her to get bloodwork done. Leslie said her husband called her from the doctor’s office and “at that point I knew something was wrong.”

“He said, ‘You need to come. They think she has cancer,’” Leslie said. “I was floored. I rushed home.”

At the doctor’s office, Leslie and Galen were told the bloodwork suggested Gwyn had leukemia. They took Gwyn to Phoenix Children’s Hospital and she underwent more tests. The next morning it was confirmed that she had cancer.

“We were obviously very scared,” Leslie said. “We had no idea what to expect, didn’t know how to move forward with dealing with Gwyn, dealing with Paige (Gwyn’s sister).”

She said telling their daughter Paige, 9, that her younger sister had cancer “was a struggle.”

Gwyn had chemotherapy for about two years and three months. Despite some side effects, “she handled it really well,” Leslie said. She did need blood transfusions throughout the treatment and had a “compromised immune system” at times, Leslie added.

When she was diagnosed, Gwyn had been ready to start pre-kindergarten, but Leslie and Galen kept her home as she underwent the intense treatments for cancer.

But Gwyn was able to be in school for most of kindergarten and has been in school since then. She is now in first grade and loves drawing and loves animals, Leslie said.

“Right now she’s doing good,” Leslie said. “We go in monthly to check her blood and make sure (there are) no signs of relapse. She’s playing softball, doing gymnastics. She does have a lot of energy.”

She said Children’s Cancer Network, a nonprofit organization based in Chandler that helps children with cancer and their families, has been very supportive throughout her family’s journey.

“Children’s Cancer Network, they were actually a big help to me,” Leslie said. “They focused a lot more on the emotional side of things for the whole family, connected us with other families, other kids, fun opportunities for our family to participate in.”

The organization also provided a program where children at Gwyn’s school were visited and educated about cancer and how it had affected their classmate.

Helping their daughter fight and beat cancer brought Leslie and Galen closer together, Leslie said.

“Now we’re just a lot more grateful for good days and experiences and being all together,” she said.

Leslie said she and her family are thrilled Gwyn was chosen to be the horn blower at the race.

“We were very excited that they chose us,” Leslie said. “We try to do what we can to raise awareness and raise funds.”

It is estimated 15,270 adolescents and children ages 19 years old and younger were diagnosed with cancer in 2017, the National Cancer Institute said.

Since starting, the Run to Fight Children’s Cancer has raised nearly $600,000 for lifesaving research and treatments at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, as well as providing gas and meal cards and other support programs through Children’s Cancer Network.

The cost for the race is $50 for the 10K and $40 for the 5K while the Cancer Survivors’ Walk is free.