She's six years old. She should be playing with Barbies and waiting for Santa. Instead, Madison Jensen is fighting a rare disease.
At first glance-Madison Jensen seems like any other healthy, six-year-old. But, a few months back...
"She got violent. Hitting kicking, spitting. Things we had never seen before," said Mandy Jensen, Madison's mom.
Mandy says it all began after the family took Madison and her younger sister, Macy, to Disney World in October. When the family came home, Madison had a meltdown.
Mandy says, "She had the biggest tantrum she's ever had....it lasted two hours."
Madison's teacher also noticed something just wasn't right. One of the first red flags she noticed was Madison's reading.
Mandy says, 'She moved from the top reading group...to a few weeks later, the bottom, and she was struggling there."
Other symptoms popped up. Madison would talk gibberish, and seem confused. The symptoms came on so fast, at one point the family rushed her to the hospital.
Mandy says, "The ER doctor thought it might be schizophrenia or a behavioral issue."
But when the Jensens followed up with a behavioral therapist...
Mandy says, "She said this is not something behavioral, there is something seriously, medically wrong with her."
The family decided to take Madison to Chidren's Hospital and Medical Center.
Mandy says, " I cried the entire way, taking her to Children's. It was terrifying."
Madison was tested for a brain tumor, seizures, and a full battery of other tests.
Meanwhile, Mandy started doing her own research. She came across the book 'Brain on Fire." It was featured on the Today Show.
"Every single symptom of this disease lined up with what Madison was dealing with."
That disease is Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis. It can be lethal, but patients can also make a full recovery. Often, it is confused with schizophrenia or behavioral problems because the symptoms are so similar.
Madison had a spinal test and it came back positive.
Mandy says, "We were relieved, but terrified at the same time. I had done research and knew how serious this can be."
Madison is the first case Children's Hospital and Medical Center has seen in a child in Nebraska.
She has started IV steroids, but will have to travel to Philadelphia to meet with a specialists. She is going right after the holidays.
Mandy says, "We're starting to see signs of the old Madison which is so encouraging because for awhile there, we thought she was gone."
Madison is expected to make a full recovery. The family won't know just how much treatment she is facing until after their meeting with the specialist in Philadelphia.
Madison's school, Saddlebrook Elementary, is hosting a bake sale and donating the profits to the Jensen family.
If you would like to help this family, there is a fund set up at all Bank of the West locations. Just ask for the Madison Jensen fund.