Eighth grader Makenzie Lawson battles leukemia


Gracie Warda, Online Editor in Chief

It is a fateful Monday when eighth grader at Andrew G. Schmidt Middle School (AGS) Makenzie (Kenzie) Lawson falls and injures her knee during gym class. She must be taken to a doctor, who will inspect the badly bruised knee. Upon blood work testing, instead of diagnosing a sprained or fractured knee, the hematologist discovers that Lawson has leukemia. 

“That’s when we got the diagnosis,” Lady Wolkow-Lawson, Lawson’s mom, said. “I always say that it was a blessing that she fell.” 

When asked to describe herself using one word, Lawson said “silly,” and Mrs. Wolkow-Lawson and the nurses nodded in agreement. She laughed as she described her incident in gym class. 

“It was after the pacer test,” Lawson said. “We were playing around with a volleyball, and someone threw it. I went to grab it and fell down over myself.” 

Lawson is undergoing several different types of chemotherapy, twice a day, to treat her aggressive leukemia. While in the hospital, she spends time playing card games with her nurse, Jenny Garcia, whom she likes to call “Jennaaay.” 

“I was so excited to come to work today because I knew that [Makenzie] was coming in,” Garcia said. “I’ve taken care of a lot of kids, at this age it is the hardest to deal with a diagnosis like this because they understand it, they know what cancer is. Even from day one, Makenzie has been like ‘alright, let’s do this.’ She’s been so strong.” 

Lawson’s strength and optimism have even been a comfort to her mother.

“I take it day by day, one day at a time,” Mrs. Wolkow-Lawson said. “I have amazing family support. The community has been amazing— overwhelming. Makenzie’s doctors and nurses have been wonderful, as well as everyone on the pediatric floor.” 

In school, Lawson’s favorite subject is math. She enjoys playing Crazy Eights with her friends, playing volleyball and supporting her teammates on the AGS and Chaos volleyball teams. 

“Kenzie is so kind,” Mrs. Wolkow-Lawson said. “She has a great sense of humor. She’s strong, brave… she’s always been such a good girl.” 

Lawson’s aunt, Heather Wolkow, runs a Facebook page called “KenzieStrong” to keep her KenzieStrong friends updated. In addition, a spaghetti dinner will be held on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 4-8 p.m. at the Fenton Moose Lodge for those in the community that want to contribute. Even Lawson’s friends have started brainstorming ideas. 

“We’re in the process of making bracelets to sell,” eighth grader Jena Fijolek said. “We had so many ideas, but we talk about this all the time.” 

Garcia explains that most kids in Lawson’s situation would complain, but instead, Lawson’s mentality is positive: “everything will be back to normal in six months when I get through this.”

PHOTO Submitted
Jenny Garcia (left) poses with Makenzie Lawson (center) and Heather Wolkow (right) for a photo.