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'She's a tough kid' | Tulsa family desperate to save toddler with rare cancer

Shaylee Davenport
Shaylee Davenport and her brother
Shaylee and Danzel
Posted at 5:20 PM, Jun 10, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — Danzel Davenport is his daughter’s biggest advocate. That’s why, for the last almost two years, he took her to every doctor he can find for a diagnosis.

He said he knew something was wrong. Shaylee, Davenport’s two-year-old, had a tumor on her neck.

It wasn't until the end of May that Davenport finally learned what was wrong with his little girl.

Shaylee and Danzel

She has been fighting stage IV metastatic melanoma.

“It’s kind of been understood in adults, but within a child at her age, that’s where it gets real tricky," said Davenport. "By the time they finally came back with the results, it had already started spreading and metastasizing into her lungs."

Shaylee was given one month to live.

The Davenport's saw as many Oklahoma physicians as they could, but because the form of cancer Shaylee has is so rare, they didn't know how to treat it.

Shaylee Davenport and her brother

When she was first seen in Tulsa for the lump on her neck, tests came back as atypical cell growth. Davenport said that didn't tell doctors if it was a benign or cancerous lump, leaving them in limbo.

“She’s a tough kid, she’s really tough," said Davenport. "She’s had to go through getting shots, and I’ve had to ask her to be still, and we all know it’s hard for kids to be still."

At that point, doctors recommended that Shaylee receive specialized care from doctors at St. Jude in Tennessee.

Doctors there told Davenport they had only seen one other case like Shaylee's. The lack of research has led to difficulties in treating Shaylee.

Davenport said his daughter has been on four different kinds of chemotherapy medications.

He's only started seeing them working, shrinking her tumors, in the last few days.

“It was just a blessing. It brought tears to my eyes," said Davenport. "I gave it all to God, and I thank God for that because it was really scary."

As doctors continue to try new treatment plans with Shaylee, her dad said it's a waiting game.

The medication could eradicate the cancer from her body. If it doesn't, Davenport said he will start to look for a clinical trial to help get his little girl cancer-free.

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