CareOregon member, McKensi Payne,
shares her story

McKensi has been a CareOregon member since January 2004. She was diagnosed with leukemia at age three. I met with McKensi at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital in August as part of our ongoing member photography program. McKensi agreed to share her story with us.

My Story
McKensi Payne
"In 2007 I did a zine called 'HOTDIGGITYDOG.'  People bought the zine and the money was then donated to a family in Niger, Africa, to buy a goat."

My name is McKensi Payne. I’m 12 years old and I go to Da Vinci Arts Middle School, which is an arts magnet school in Portland, Oregon. It provides dance, drama, photography and visual art, most of which I have attended the past couple years. The teachers and students there are all very friendly.  I hope to be doing my capstone project in either visual art or drama.

I also enjoy writing but I do most of that out of school for entertainment. I like making up different characters and mostly writing in comic book form rather than a normal book. In 2007 I did a zine called "HOTDIGGITYDOG." People bought the zine and the money was donated to a family in Niger, Africa, to buy a goat. We donated two goats before I became too busy with school to go on with it.

My friends at school are Jake and Levi, who I know from second grade (I’m now in seventh grade). Luna, we’ve known each other since we were four; Izzy who I met in sixth grade; Azriel, who I met only last year; and many others that would be hard to squish into this paragraph. My friends are really great and I’m really glad I know all of them. I mean, where would we be without friends?
McKensi Payne with her mother, Suzie

McKensi with her mother, Suzie

More about my leukemia. When I was first diagnosed I was only 3, so I don’t really remember being scared the first time we found out. I didn’t even know what it meant. In first grade I got rediagnosed and I realized that it was a big deal, but I still didn’t really fully understand why. It wasn’t until I was in second grade that I totally knew why it was such a scary matter. I realized that this disease I had could cause fatality and that’s when I became scared. I relapsed yet again in 2007 and had a successful bone marrow transplant. My donor was a baby who donated the umbilical cord blood. The donor was all the way from Spain! I’m now over my two-year mark with having my new bone marrow!

Though this is a terrible thing for anybody to go through, in a way I am glad it happened because it has really helped make me into the person that I am now.

I would like to thank all the doctors and nurses at OHSU Doernbecher for helping me and their kindness, such as Dr. Tilford and Dr. Nemicek. 
Thank you,

McKensi Payne and Dr. Nemecek
McKensi Payne with Eneida Nemecek, MD

"McKensi is a wonderful young girl. It is such a pleasure to see her grow and continue her life, now cancer-free. I am glad we have been able to be part of her healing process."
- Eneida Nemecek, MD, MS -

Dr. Eneida Nemecek specializes in bone marrow transplantation for the treatment of cancer and other disorders affecting blood. She is the Director of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program of the Kenneth W. Ford Northwest Children's Cancer Center at Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Her research focus is to study methods to improve the outcome of blood and marrow transplantation.

She also directs the Unrelated Cord Blood Program of Oregon, which facilitates the collection of cord blood units for public donation. Dr. Nemecek is the lead investigator for several clinical trials, and collaborates as an investigator in multiple national and international research studies of blood and bone marrow transplantation.

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