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Michiana girl fighting back against rare brain cancer

NOW: Michiana girl fighting back against rare brain cancer

WARSAW, Ind. -- Payton Slaymaker is like most other 8-year-old girls. 

She is a Girl Scout, takes dance classes, and loves the Indianapolis Colts. 

But unlike other kids her age, the Claypool resident is fighting a rare pediatric brain cancer. 

In July, Payton’s parents, Kimberly and Andrew Slaymaker, noticed Payton was having trouble with her eyes. 

“We thought it was because she was playing on her tablet too much,” said Andrew Slaymaker. 

They took Payton to the optometrist who recommended the soon-to-be third grader get an MRI. Within days, doctors diagnosed Payton with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, more commonly known as DIPG. 

“When we found out the diagnosis, it took our breath away,” said Andrew Slaymaker. “It made everything stop. Iit made us focus on what was important... It was getting our baby well. It was finding the right treatment, the right hospital that Payton needed.” 

According to the Michael Mosier Foundation, DIPG is a rare brain cancer that almost exclusively affects children between the ages of 4 and 11. Around 300 kids are diagnosed with the disease each year. 

DIPG attacks a part of the brainstem called the PONS. The pons control a person’s eyesight, breathing, and other essential functions. 

As the tumor grows, it impacts a child’s speech, vision, coordination, breathing, and heartbeat. 

There is no cure, but Payton and her family want to find one. 

“My thing is to stay strong, make sure whatever, if you think that you can’t do it, just believe that you can still do it, even if you’re scared sometimes,” said Payton Slaymaker. “You can always look at your parents. They will tell you that everything is okay.” 

“Never give up on God,” said Andrew Slaymaker. “Our theme is fear is a liar. If you focus on the fear, you can’t focus on anything else. If  you have fear, you can’t have joy, you can’t have happiness and you can’t have hope, if you have fear. We refuse to focus on fear.” 

Over the last few weeks, her family has started selling bracelets. They also are hosting a carnival-themed party this Saturday at Warsaw Family Worship Center. 

The money raised at the event will help Payton’s family cover medical costs. 

Payton and her parents say their faith in God and the community’s support has given their family the strength to fight this disease. 

“Let me tell ya, we feel the prayers,” said Andrew Slaymaker. “We couldn’t do this alone. There’s no way we could take the next step ourselves, but knowing that we have the support of the community and the thousands that are praying for her, we really feel the love and we feel the encouragement every day, every treatment.” 

The “Pray for Payton” fundraiser starts at 12 p.m. Tickets are $8 and $4 for kids 10 and under. Organizers expect 500-600 people to show up. Those who can’t make it to the fundraiser but would still like to donate can click here

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