A six-year-old Spencer girl who has been in a life-long battle against cancer wowed ’em at the statehouse today (Monday). Madison DeWitt, the granddaughter of State Representative Mike May of Spirit Lake, sang two patriotic songs to mark the beginning of House and Senate business on President’s Day. Madison sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” “Grandpa’s obviously busting his buttons here,” May says.
Madison’s mom, Lisa DeWitt, says when Madison was one, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumor was removed and Madison underwent experimental treatment that involved chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. “After all of that, they said it was great and she was in remission. We went back when she was four and it had come back,” DeWitt says. “We opted not to do any more treatments…Radiation was the only option which would not do much to help her and that would just prolong it and so then we just decided to come home and just pray a lot, and so that’s what we’ve done and she’s still doing great.”
Her grandfather says the doctors are “baffled and amazed” that she is still alive. “Very few people get to see miracles in their lifetime. Lots of folks want to see one to confirm the faith that they have and a lot of people want a miracle because something good needs to happen in their life,” Representative May says. I get to hug one and hold one all the time.”
Madison’s grandmother was her preschool teacher and that’s where she learned the songs she sang today. After Madison sang in both the House and Senate, she was surrounded by her family as she talked about her performance. “Kinda nervous,” she said. “A little nervous,” her mother echoed, laughing. Madison wore a red, white and blue hat — which she tipped at one point as she sang “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Her outfit had a Valentine’s theme with red socks, a denim skirt and a red top with the word “love” written in white.
She vetoed the idea of wearing a patriotic costume so she and her grandmother, who accompanied her on the piano, would match. “I thought it would be embarrassing to wear it,” Madison says. Madison sings often in churches in northwest Iowa, and that was preparation for today’s event. “When I was practicing I always had a crowd — for real!” Madison says.
Madison’s grandfather — Representative May — says Madison is the most courageous person he’s ever met. “The things that happen to you when you have chemotherapy, stem cell transplants and lots of holes pushed in you, punched in you all the time are amazing for a little girl the age of one to endure,” May says. “Madison did it with great dignity and great courage.” Madison is a kindergartener who attends the school where her dad is the principal and her mom is the guidance counselor.