My first born daughter has always been independent and determined. She has always taken care of her younger siblings. She is often the first one they call when they need advice or guidance.
She believes that things happen for a reason.
My daughter, Kaely is a cancer warrior.
She went through so much prior to her cancer diagnosis – friends telling her she was faking the pain for attention, multiple ER visits only to be given medicine, and discharged home. She had two surgeries prior to being diagnosed: one to remove her gall bladder and another to remove her appendix.
After her first surgery, she told the doctor that the pain was still there and he suggested it might be due to the hospital bed. Days later we were back in the hospital with the same complaints and the pain level was so much more intolerable. Little did we know that the tumor was growing bigger by the day.
Kaely never failed to smile, and was always polite. She was patient even when in pain and polite even when the doctors were ignoring her symptoms.She was full of grace and gratitude.
We will never forget the day of Kaely’s diagnosis. Kaely was preparing to eat lunch and the nurse came in and took it from her with no explanation. We were given the news that we were being transferred to our local cancer institute. Our worst fears came true – CANCER.
Kaely told me when we were alone at the children’s hospital that she would not accept the chemotherapy and that she did not want anyone to know she had cancer. She didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her or treating her differently. I begged and pleaded, and told her she had to have the treatment. She responded, “I know what my rights are.”
This explains Kaely and her level of self determination.
My worst fear as a mother was Kaely refusing treatment. Shortly after being admitted to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, her pain was intolerable due to her Stage 4 cancer diagnosis. She needed the chemotherapy to reduce the pain. She finally agreed.
Kaely was upset over her diagnosis and it wasn’t until she met Emily, another teen with cancer, that I saw acceptance – an acceptance that she too can get through this and that she too can experience her teen years…even diagnosed with cancer.
As we were inundated with support, we watched others who were not so fortunate. It was heartbreaking, but unfortunately this was reality for some who had a single parent, who had to work and also care for siblings. We knew something had to be done.
This is how Kaely’s Kindness started – a nonprofit out of Buffalo, NY.
It originally started off as a way to offer practical support, such as gift cards and chemo care packages to patients and families. It has since evolved to so much more and is an integral part of our lives. Kaely’s Kindness has shifted to providing emotional and peer support to teens at a time when socialization and friendship are critical to emotional and social development.
Kaely witnessed first hand the sadness and loneliness that many teens experience, as a result of their cancer diagnosis and treatments. She knew through her work that she could make a difference and no one would feel alone or isolated.
Kaely has matured beyond her years. She no longer has time for friends, who are superficial or who are not willing to make sacrifices in the best interest of others. I watched her endure so much, but I couldn’t be prouder of her. Kaely never let negativity stop her when she was questioned about her motives to continue on with Kaely’s Kindness.
Kaely has provided a teen with a celebration of life…and watched as this teen died from cancer. Kaely is determined to do what she needs to do to provide young women fighting cancer with friendship, love and support, even when it’s emotionally wrecking. Kaely’s Kindness is now a group 65+ members strong.
Cancer changed Kaely, but Kaely’s Kindness changed her more. I have offered on more than one occasion for Kaely to take a break or walk away from the nonprofit, so that she can focus on her own health and well being. Kaely stated that she would never.
She has found a purpose and a reason for having cancer.