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Alabama community rallies for teen in final stages of rare cancer battle

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 6:06 PM CDT
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DADEVILLE Ala. (WSFA) - The Dadeville community showed the power of love this week as they welcomed home one of their own. Maddie McClendon, 18, is in the final stages of her battle with cancer, but it’s the not disease that’s getting the upper hand.

It’s something else her family considers far more potent. McClendon’s story is one of courage, formidable character, and strength.

“She ran track in high school and was a cheerleader” recalled her mom, Chris McClendon.

Once vivacious and so full of life, Maddie is now on her final journey. The former Auburn University freshman’s life took a sudden turn last October when she learned she had an extremely rare cancer.

Maddie McClendon battles ovarian cancer after being diagnosed just 7 months ago.
Maddie McClendon battles ovarian cancer after being diagnosed just 7 months ago.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

“There are supposedly less than 500 documented cases of small cell carcinoma of the ovaries,” said her mom. “She is struggling right now.”

Seven months worth of chemo, radiation and surgeries have done little to help Maddie. A week ago, her doctors told family that there’s nothing more they can do.

“This tumor, and he used the term, just has a mind of its own,” McClendon’s mom said the doctor explained.

That’s when the community provided the perfect medicine to ease her transition home on Wednesday. The ambulance arrived to a crowd of people holding balloons, a homecoming that involved an escort and a prayer circle in her front yard.

“She knows she’s loved,” her mom said, “but to see that, you know, in action, it was touching for her.”

Maddie McClendon battles ovarian cancer after being diagnosed just 7 months ago.
Maddie McClendon battles ovarian cancer after being diagnosed just 7 months ago.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

And Maddie returned the love by walking down the front steps of her home before sitting down in a wheelchair. She was determined to do it on her own.

It was a special moment; a connection that’ll last a lifetime for all who were there.

Through it all, Maddie has not lost her sense of humor. In fact, according to the family, she named her tumor ‘Earl’ and put his name on a wristband which provides a little comic relief for her family.

“She has a wit,” Mom said, and is the epitome of grace. “She never questioned why this was happening.”

Maddie McClendon battles ovarian cancer after being diagnosed just 7 months ago.
Maddie McClendon battles ovarian cancer after being diagnosed just 7 months ago.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

Maddie McClendon’s spirit is strong and her faith is unshakable with a spirit waiting to soar.

Now, with the planning completed and a burial plot already selected, Maddie’s family spends what time they have left by her side, all while thank everyone who has offered their kindness and prayers.

“Her memory is gonna live on,” her mom said.

Maddie McClendon battles ovarian cancer after being diagnosed just 7 months ago.
Maddie McClendon battles ovarian cancer after being diagnosed just 7 months ago.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, community leaders will hold a walk to being awareness to ovarian cancer. The walk begins in front of the First Methodist Church in Dadeville, just two blocks east of Maddie McClendon’s home.

Editor’s note: The family confirmed that Maddie McClendon has passed away Saturday afternoon.

Copyright 2021 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.