“Cancer, you picked the wrong family.”

It has been a long, exhausting journey for Mackenzie and her mom Ebony as they have fought through hepatoblastoma, a rare form of liver cancer that strikes young children. Three-year-old Mackenzie has thrived, despite a complicated liver surgery sandwiched between multiple rounds of chemotherapy.

“It was about getting the right information, asking a lot of questions and controlling the things I could control,” Ebony said. “When I was told Mackenzie was going to lose her hair, the first thing I did was shave our heads. I got up, made an appointment and I shaved both our heads. Because I was like, ‘cancer, you picked the wrong family because we’re gonna take you by force.’”

But the last several months of treatment have been extremely taxing. Family, friends, church groups and organizations like Children’s Flight of Hope all rallied around Mackenzie to make sure that the family got the support they needed.

“I didn’t know so many people loved us,” Ebony said. “The help I received, I didn’t even know I was going to need it at the beginning. One of my mottos is ‘me and Mackenzie vs. the world’ but dealing with cancer couldn’t be that. We were gonna need help to get through this and that’s ok.”

Now, Ebony and Mackenzie are back home and working to get life back to normal. “It has been a lot to handle and we’re still dealing with complications and medications. But despite everything, we have been blessed with so much love”

The Children’s Flight of Hope mission is simple, to provide free air transportation to medical facilities for seriously ill or injured kids in need. But it’s not just about a plane ticket; it’s also about peace of mind. They become part of the family’s team: checking on progress, acting as advocates and making a commitment for the long-term health of the child. That’s certainly the case with Mackenzie who returned home to North Carolina after undergoing successful surgery and a month of treatment in Chicago.

The hope is that Mackenzie, or any CFOH kid, never needs another medical flight. But if they do, Children’s Flight of Hope will be there, fighting alongside the family exactly when it matters most.


Click on any photo to enlarge and scroll through the gallery.