NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — May is brain cancer awareness month and for one local girl the road to recovery has just begun.
11-year-old Laken Cluck isn’t letting her cancer diagnosis stop her from bringing joy to other people’s lives.
Laken tells us she wanted to take the focus off herself during her treatment. Armed with a pen and paper she is spreading hope to those in need one letter at a time.
Laken is like many girls her age. She loves cheerleading, makeup and making Tik Tok videos but at 11 years old, her life changed.
“This has been a crazy journey… you never expect this to happen to one of your kids” said her mother, Jessica Fifer.
She says her daughter began feeling sick in January vomiting, constant nausea and sleeping more than usual. After several trips to the emergency room doctors did a CT scan. That’s when they found a plum-sized tumor in her brain.
“She has a brain tumor… at that point, I just lost it” said Fifer.
” I remember feeling so sick that I really didn’t care what we had to do as long as we can get it out,” said Laken who underwent surgery to remove the tumor and finished 6 weeks of radiation in May. She starts six rounds of chemotherapy in late June.
She was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer often found in children.
“As soon as they found the tumor she was in surgery within 6 hours. It was very serious because her spinal fluid was being blocked and it could have turned out really bad for her…. if I didn’t keep pursuing that something was wrong,” said Fifer.
Fifer says Laken’s type of brain cancer is rare but has the best outcomes and responds best to treatment.
During her time at the hospital, Laken focused on something she loves, writing letters. The first one was to her mother who stood by her side. The next one was to her doctors, then the nurses who treated her, and then to anyone in need of support.
Laken says 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 anyone going through a tough time some hope then she accomplished her mission.
“I know that god has a plan for me and he will put me on the right path,” said Cluck.
Laken says she is looking forward to beating her cancer, getting back to cheerleading, and continuing to uplift people through what she is calling her ministry of letters.