WALKER, La. — Rarely, has a Covid diagnosis saved someone’s life, but that could be the case for Walker High School senior Mikayla Weaver.
The 17-year-old started complaining of chest pains and trouble breathing on January 30. Weaver and her mother thought the problems could be complications from Covid. After receiving X-rays, she was referred to another hospital where they found out it was something more.
“They sent us over to Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge and the doctor walked in there and the first thing out of her mouth was ‘We’re gonna do an echocardiogram to see if this mass is affecting your heart,’ and like, my jaw dropped,” said Mikayla’s mother Samantha Beasley. “Mass was not used in any statement or anything. So I’m like what are you talking about? She (the doctor) pulls me aside and she showed me the CT scan and there was an obvious mass on her left lung, near her heart.”
Weaver was diagnosed with Diffused Stage 3 Large B-Cell Lymphoma in her lung, collar bone, lumbar spine, abdomen, and leg. Lymphoma is a type of blood cell that causes abnormal B cells to develop.
Beasley had a biopsy on Jan. 31, one day after the mass was found. They had to wait until Feb. 9 for the results.
“That was the longest week ever,” Beasley admitted. “We did find out on the 9th that it was B cell Lymphoma. She had a port placed for her chemo treatments on Valentine’s Day. And then on the 17th of February, we had her PET scan, which pinpoints all the different tumors or if there are more tumors, and unfortunately there were. We knew the mass in her chest was there, but she’s stage three.”
A Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan is procedure where a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to make detailed, computerized pictures of areas inside the body where the glucose is taken up, according to the National Cancer Institute. Because cancer cells often take up more glucose than normal cells, the pictures can be used to find cancer cells in the body.
Beasley said from the moment they’ve found out about her diagnosis, Mikayla has been strong throughout.
“I’ve been amazed,” she said. “I’m just so proud of her because of her strength. Honestly, if I was in her shoes, I don’t think I would be as kept together as she has been. I’m beyond impressed. She’s so strong.”
Weaver went through a week-long treatment at the end of February and the beginning of March. It consisted of chemo every day a couple of times per day. According to Beasley, Mikayla left that week with little nausea and just feeling “crummy” but nothing major.
Beasley said near the middle of March, her daughter began to lose her hair.
“When it started (to fall out), it came out with the quickness,” Beasley said. “It was coming out in handfuls. We went ahead and shaved her head. My husband, her stepdad, shaved his with her and my oldest son, who completely blew us all away. He had almost shoulder-length hair that he loved and he buzz-cut it. Our life has not been the easiest up to this point and we’ve always stuck together and I can’t say enough how amazed I am at her strength.”
Weaver, a senior at Walker High, is set to graduate in May and attend Lincoln Tech in Tennesee for Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology later this year.
Beasley said Weaver’s love of cars was something that runs in the family.
“I say it kind of comes from me but also her father, too,” Beasley said. “My father raced cars when I was younger. Me and my sister always joked that mechanics are in our blood. Every vehicle I’ve ever owned, if I could fix it, I’m gonna fix it myself. When Mikayla was 13, I had just got a new Suburban and we had issues with the gas tank. She was 13-years-old out there under my Suburban with me helping me drop my gas tank, fix the seal in it, and put it back up.”
Walker High offers an auto body repair course and that led Weaver to pursue a career in automotive repair. It was also where she met her friend, David Brown, and his mother, Tiffany Navarro.
Navarro, the organizer of Weaver’s GoFundMe, said she started the campaign because she knew things would be hard financially.
“We’re trying to raise money for financial support to maybe help them get another vehicle,” Navarro said. “Just anything we can do to better their situation.”
Navarro’s son is organizing a car show at Walker High on April 15th to help raise money as well. The show is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“She has been pretty much like my adopted child,” Navarro said. “Seeing her go through this has been very difficult. Cancer is a horrible illness and no parent should have to watch their child suffer or maybe lose their dreams. I think that’s the part that gets me the most. She’s so close to beginning a new chapter in her life.”
The GoFundMe was created to help cover the cost of her medical bills, and Navarro said that Weaver has used the money she had been saving to fix her car to cover some of the costs already.
Beasley said Phillips Automotive in Baton Rouge will donate 55% of labor costs when people schedule a service and mention Weaver’s name in a fundraising effort. There is a car show scheduled for April 29th in Biloxi, Mississippi in Weaver’s honor from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Weaver attended her senior prom on March 25th.
“She’s an amazing girl, who’s been through so much her whole life,” Beasley said. “I just want to make all her dreams come true.”
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