ILION, N.Y.-- When six-year-old Caidence Morrison was sent home sick from school in December, the stomach pains and fatigue she felt didn't raise any eyebrows.
Not until the next morning.
"He woke her up Tuesday morning and asked her how she was feeling," Jaime Mendez, Caidence's aunt said. "She said she was fine. She went to get up out of bed and doubled over in pain because the tumor had gotten so big, it was pushing on her diaphragm."
Diagnosed with a stage 3 Wilms tumor on her kidney, things have been changing quickly for Caidence.
"They're taking her kidney and the tumor out, and then after that, she has to have a week of radiation," Mendez said.
Caidence will have the surgery January 19th and will receive quarterly checkups to ensure the cancer doesn't spread to her other kidney. While she hasn't lost her vivacious spirit, the regular visits to the hospital for chemotherapy have taken away her hair.
"She just understood that she was going to lose her hair and that was probably the hardest part for her," Mendez said. "She's not eating much. Once a week, they have to go to Syracuse. It's almost a two-hour drive."
While Caidence's father must juggle work, doctor's appointments and three other children, extended family has stepped in to help nurture her spirit.
"She was going to be super upset about losing her hair, so I said that I would shave my head with her," Jordan Mendez, Caidence's cousin said.
Jordan was able to cut five, waist-long ponytails in support of Caidence.
"We're going to donate it," Jordan said.
"My mom said to stay strong when I see her so she like doesn't feel bad," Haylee Mendez, Jordan's sister said.
The Mendez family has helped organize a benefit in Caidence's honor. "Caring for Caidence" will be held at the Cold Brook American Legion on January 13th, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The event will feature food, live music, raffle baskets and auctions. Tickets are $15 per person, $25 per couple and $7 for children under 13.