A Tarkington teenager who dreams of growing up to be a neonatal nurse is facing her own medical crisis right now. Alexis “Lexi” Edwards, 14, is in Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston where doctors have discovered cancer in her lymph nodes.
The cancer was discovered late Tuesday evening after Lexi noticed a lump on her collar bone while brushing her hair. Her mother, Stacy, says that Lexi has experienced migraines in recent months, requiring multiple trips to her doctors, but cancer was never even a consideration before now.
“We just had her blood work done because of the migraines and she was losing weight, which we weren’t sure was just her growing into a different stage,” Stacy said. “When she found the lump, we took her to a hospital in The Woodlands.”
After running a few tests, Stacy said Lexi’s doctor pulled her aside to break the bad news.
“Those are swollen lymph nodes in her neck and we are pretty sure it is going to be lymphoma,” the doctor reportedly said to Stacy.
Lexi was immediately transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital, where she now has undergone biopsies to her lymph nodes, a bone marrow biopsy in her groin and a PET scan. The biopsies are expected to determine the type of cancer while the PET scan will show how far it has advanced in her body.
“They have already told us she will have to undergo chemotherapy, which will cause her to lose her hair. It’s the kind of chemotherapy that makes you very, very sick. She will have to be quarantined from the rest of her family while she starts chemo,” said Stacy.
The cancer diagnosis comes at a particularly difficult time for the Edwards family. In March, Stacy’s husband, Taylor Edwards, lost his job as an electrician in the refineries in Mont Belvieu due to the economic downturn related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My husband has worked for years and provided for us but because of COVID-19 we are now in a situation we never expected to be in,” she said. “The day before Lexi’s diagnosis, our health insurance was canceled because we could no longer afford to pay the premiums. The hospital is going to try to push Medicaid through for Lexi, so hopefully that works.”
Even if Medicaid kicks in to cover the medical bills, the family is still facing a financial hurdle to pay for the unforeseen costs associated with a hospital stay, such as meals, fuel and parking fees, among other expenses.
“Our rent has been paid this month, so we are feeling happy about that. I am not worried about much right now. I just want my baby to get better,” she said. “I’ve only seen my husband cry twice in our 15 years of marriage prior to this. I’ve seen him cry now a few times. This has been really hard on us all and we were not prepared for this.”
Lexi’s siblings – Mackenzie, 11, Zane, 10, and Addison, 7 – are in the care of their maternal grandparents and they are keeping up with their sister and parents through FaceTime. The Edwards are members of Oak Shade Baptist Church in Tarkington.
“Lexi wants to be a Nicu nurse when she grows up. She loves helping people. She is an amazing girl with a big heart,” she said. “She’s very scared but she is not talking much about it. Today, her coach at Tarkington sent over a picture of the girls volleyball team with a message of Lexi Strong. It made her cry. I think the reality of the situation is setting in. It makes it real that people are talking about it. At 14 years old, cancer shouldn’t be something you have to worry about, but here we are.”
A Go Fund Me account has been established to help the Edwards family. If you wish to donate, click on this link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/lexitough
Her family and friends are also planning a fundraiser at noon, Saturday, Nov. 7, at Dan’s Guitars and Music, 112 W. Houston St., Cleveland. Live music will be provided while Lexi’s supporters enjoy brisket plates, a silent auction, raffles and other activities. Shirts, bracelets, koozies, window decals, personalized cookies and other #LexiTough items will be for sale on site as well. If you are not able to make it and would like to donate to the family or are interesting in participating in the raffles or silent auction, please contact Amanda Barnett by calling or texting 281-622-6735. You can also send money directly to the family via CashApp at $stacyrenee6903.