In recognition of September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I am re-posting this piece I wrote about Kelsey; the beautiful, kind, caring, sweet daughter of a friend of mine who passed away from this horrible disease. Kelsey’s family is still working hard to fight childhood cancer. Please read and share their story to help them spread awareness and continue to work for better treatments and, hopefully one day, a cure.
In September of 2010 eleven year old Kelsey Hill, who had just started grade 7, called her mother from school to complain of a severe headache. Kelsey’s mom, Lana (who is a friend of mine), suffered from migraines and a doctor confirmed that this was most likely what Kelsey was experiencing, too.
But the headache didn’t go away.
On their website, the family describes what happened next as their “worst nightmare;”
“What we thought were migraine headaches, turned out to be our worst nightmare, Kelsey was diagnosed with Supratentorial Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumour-a rare and aggressive form of brain tumour. Kelsey was rushed to McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, and underwent 3 brain surgeries, including major brain surgery which caused the left side of her body to become paralyzed and wheelchair dependent; 31 daily radiation treatments to brain and spine followed by 6 months of aggressive chemotherapy treatments. Kelsey never complained while enduring over 600 needle pokes to her body and countless scans and tests.”
The youngest of Lana’s three daughters by several years, Kelsey was the heart of her family. She was sweet and kind and even while sick she was focused on how she could help others. In June of 2011 Kelsey created Team Kelsey, a charity to raise money in order to help other families fighting childhood cancer.
The results of an MRI that same month were promising, but just two months later the tumour was back. Kelsey endured further treatments and was even able to return to school for a short time. But in October of 2011 the tumour returned. That’s when the family was told that there were no further treatment options.
On December 13, 2011 at the young age of 13, Kelsey Hill passed away.
Despite their devastation, the family and friends of Kelsey Hill were determined to honour Kelsey’s memory through her desire to help others. They have continued to raise awareness of childhood cancer through the charity Kelsey started herself. To date, Team Kelsey has raised tens of thousands of dollars in Kelsey’s honour and has helped countless families with those funds.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, cancer causes more deaths in children than asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and AIDS combined. Each year in Canada an average of 920 children are diagnosed with cancer and 117 children die from it. According to Childcan “60% of survivors of childhood cancer face late effects of their disease and treatment, including neurocognitive impairments, sterility and secondary cancers.”
Despite these alarming statistics “less than 3% of monies raised for cancer research are spent on childhood cancer.”
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It is time that we focus more effort on researching and finding a cure for this terrible disease that is robbing children of their lives and causing so many families immeasurable grief. Please consider learning more about childhood cancer and supporting initiatives to raise awareness and funds to combat it.
Team Kesley’s goals are ambitious but Kesley’s spirit of determination has inspired those involved to keep going. From their website, “Team Kelsey’s biggest wish is to live in a world where children can grow up without the worry of getting this horrible disease, a world without fear of a shortened life, a world without cancer! We encourage anyone and everyone to join our team and help raise awareness of Childhood Cancer and work together for a cancer free world!”
Maybe one day, with enough efforts, Team Kelsey’s biggest wish will come true.
For more information on Team Kelsey, their initiatives, and how you can help, please visit www.teamkelsey.ca