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Local Teen is Tumor and Seizure Free

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Madison Blackmon was a healthy and active 14-year-old girl. She earned straight A’s in school and played three sports before she started feeling strange. Madison describes feeling what she believed were anxiety attacks and extreme exhaustion. When she started losing focus during conversations, apparently drifting off, her parents realized it was time to see the doctor. An MRI revealed that Madison had a tumor in her brain that was causing "absence seizures." Near her hippocampus, the portion of the brain responsible for language and memory, treating Madison’s tumor required expert surgical care.

The Cocoa Beach teen’s father and local teacher, Donald Blackmon, describes his feelings of helplessness and despair upon her initial diagnosis, but also how Dr. Lee consoled him and assured the family that Madison would make a full recovery. After extensive brain mapping to determine the precise location of Madison’s tumor, Drs. Lee and Baumgartner strategized a treatment plan to remove the growth. Dr. Baumgartner described the location of the tumor as “worrisome,” and despite being nervous, Madison was on board with the treatment plan proposed. She eased her fears by thoroughly studying her tumor, the treatment plan and the possible risks involved. One of the most serious of which was the potential for Madison to lose her long-term memory – and it was this possibility that worried Madison’s little brother the most. The inspiring and selfless teen took even this in stride and found a way to put his mind at ease. After her final surgery Madison recorded and a thoughtful message to her brother to let him know that she remembered him and just how much she loved him.

Donald describes his pride in the amazing maturity Madison exhibited during the process and the impressive collection of over 25 physicians and staff members, who all worked together to best meet Madison’s needs during her two surgeries, and beyond. A mere week after surgery, Madison returned to school and another week later, she returned to the volleyball court. While Madison has checked in with the Florida Epilepsy Center team regularly over the last 2 years, she remains tumor and seizure free and has been accepted to Pittsburgh’s prestigious Carnegie Mellon University.

Watch Madison’s story in the first segment of Local 6’s most recent Surviving and Thriving series below.