Saturday was the 6th annual St. Jude Give Thanks Walk. Our Team Kaelyn didn’t participate in the first walk. At that time, my little niece was sick, but the doctors hadn’t diagnosed her cancer as yet. That didn’t happen until December after the first walk in November. We had yet to find out in a very personal family way the great work St. Jude does.
Of course, we knew about St. Jude’s. We knew that Danny Thomas began the hospital to help kids get well. I knew a family whose child was treated there and fought the good fight but wasn’t able to defeat the cancer enemy.
And then Kaelyn’s symptoms got worse so her parents took her to another doctor right before they planned to make the trip back to Kentucky for Christmas. That doctor ordered new tests that revealed the cancer and Kaelyn’s parents were given the frightful warning that she possibly only had two days to live and they needed to get her to St. Jude as fast as possible. So they did. Christmas trips home were forgotten. A diagnosis like makes one focus on what matters most and to a mother or father, a child’s health is something to fight for, tooth and nail. Thank God, that St. Jude’s Hospital feels the same way and without delay, the war against Kaelyn’s cancer was declared. For a while, Kaelyn, who was a bubbly five-year-old at the time, refused to talk. One minute she was going home for Christmas. The next moment she was in a hospital with needles and drugs that made her feel even worse and people saying she might die. That’s a lot for a little girl to absorb.
But her wonderful parents and the people at St. Jude’s helped her though that with love and compassion and the assurance of hope. She joined the fight with great spirit. It was difficult for her to lose her long, curly hair so her father shaved off his hair to show that hair didn’t really matter that much. After months of treatments, Kaelyn’s cancer was declared in remission. After three long years of treatments, she heard the word that her family and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of friends across the country had been praying to hear. Cured. Some of you were in that number praying for Kaelyn. And those prayers were answered. I posted about St. Jude No More Chemo Party here on One Writer’s Journal a couple of years ago.
Now Kaelyn is a happy, healthy child again. Going to school. Making friends every day wherever she goes. Not having to wear that mask against germs. She can have a cold now without having to rush to the hospital. She’s always ready to speak up for St. Jude’s Hospital and help their fundraising any way she can even though she’s still just a little girl. But she knows some of the kids she met at St. Jude’s are still fighting the fight. She knows that new kids are hearing the dreadful diagnosis she got. She knows St. Jude’s can help those kids win the war against cancer as she did. When St. Jude’s Hospital was established, only twenty percent of the kids like Kaelyn who had leukemia survived. Now that number is up to eighty percent survivors. St. Jude fights for kids. They fought for our Kaelyn. They want to make the survival rate ninety percent or even better. And so our family, Team Kaelyn, walked in the St. Jude Give Thanks Walk in Kaelyn’s honor.
It was a blessing to see her being just a regular kid playing with the other kids as we walked back through the zoo to see the animals. She’s the one in the middle of the crate at the gorilla exhibit. God is good.
So, I just wanted to share about why we walked in honor of Kaelyn since so many of you prayed for her and her family. Thank you so much. Prayers make a difference.
If you would like to read how a prayer Danny Thomas prayed early in his career led to many children getting a second chance at life the way Kaelyn has, go to Danny’s Promise on the St. Jude website. A great story.
Thank you for reading and for praying. You’re the best.