NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA / KFTA) – May is a month for brain cancer awareness and for a local girl, the road to recovery has just begun.
11-year-old Laken Cluck does not let her cancer diagnosis prevent her from bringing joy to other people’s lives.
Laken tells us that during her treatment she wanted to take the focus away from herself. Armed with pen and paper, she spreads hope for those in need, letter by letter.
Laken is like many girls her age. She loves cheerleading, makeup and making Tik Tok videos, but at the age of 11, her life changed.
“This has been a crazy journey… you never expect this to happen to any of your kids,” said her mother, Jessica Fifer.
She says her daughter started feeling nauseous in January, was vomiting, was constantly nauseous, and slept more than usual. After several trips to the emergency room, doctors performed a CT scan. Then they found a plum-sized tumor in her brain.
“She has a brain tumor … at that point I just lost him,” said Fifer.
“I remember feeling so sick that I really didn’t care what we had to do as long as we could get it out,” said Laken, who underwent surgery to remove the tumor and completed 6 weeks of radiation in May. At the end of June she will start with six courses of chemotherapy.
She was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer often found in children.
“Once they found the tumor, it was operated on within 6 hours. It was very serious because her spinal fluid was blocked and it could have ended very badly for her…. if I didn’t keep chasing that something was wrong, ”said Fifer.
Fifer says Laken’s type of brain cancer is rare, but it has the best results and responds well to treatment.
During her hospital stay, Laken focused on one thing she loves: writing letters. The first was for her mother, who was standing next to her. Next was to her doctors, then to the nurses who treated her, and then to anyone who needed help.
Laken says that instead of focusing on herself, she wants to be of service to others.
“I know how bad it feels to feel sick all the time and it just encouraged me to write letters to people who feel sick or who need it,” said Laken.
She tells us that if she can give hope to someone who is struggling, she has accomplished her mission.
“I know God has a plan for me and he will put me on the right track,” said Cluck.
Laken says she’s looking forward to beating her cancer, returning to cheerleading, and continuing to elevate people through what she calls her Department of Letters.