The hallway of a children’s hospital became the unlikely setting for a friendship to bloom between two children, Mack and Payson, both of whom were diagnosed with cancer. Earlier this year, Mack was at the hospital when his mother noticed Payson, a little girl parading down the hallway with giant balloons in her hand.
Later that day, she went up to Payson’s mother, Traci, and struck up a conversation with her. After their mothers got to talking, Mack and Payson began bonding with each other within the walls of the children’s hospital.
Despite being attacked to IV lines, nothing could stop Payson and Mack from playing with each other. During their time together, Payson picked up a few dance moves from Mack while he fell in love with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after Payson introduced them to him.
“Traci and I were both teary watching them just be kids,” Dani said.
Payson’s mother, Traci, revealed that her daughter was “so isolated” in the hospital until Mack entered their lives and changed everything.
“It was so hard to meet people because of the pandemic,” Traci shared. “She was asking for new toys every five minutes. And then Mack came along.”
To Mack and Payson, it did not matter that the hospital’s playroom and family room were closed. All they needed to get through their time in the hospital was each other.
By dressing up, coloring, and playing with toys, Mack and Payson pushed each other along as they fought against cancer together.
Following his treatment for anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), Mack’s family was finally told by the doctors that he could go home. After leaving the hospital, the one thing he would constantly ask Dani was when he could finally go and meet Payson.
“Every morning, his first question was, ’When can I play with Payson?'” Dani recalled.
In the three weeks they spent apart, the two children dearly missed each other and had to wait for Payson to leave the hospital before they could finally meet. Soon enough, Payson was able to go back home with her family after receiving treatment for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. And with both the children now in remission, Payson and Mack were finally able to meet outside a hospital for the first time.
On July 21, their three weeks of separation finally came to an end and their reunion was an absolute tearjerker. The two hugged each other, and Mack gave Payson flowers that he picked up himself especially for her. Although they were only three years old, Mack and Payson were able to show their parents how to find simple joy in even tough situations. The two children will start preschool this fall and have no plans of stopping their playdates anytime soon.
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