Kennedy is an energetic 8 year old that loves to swim, play outside, play softball, basketball & craft! She is also a Girl Scout. During Halloween of 2021, when she was 6 years old, she became very tired and weak while trick or treating. This was very unusual for her. She started to not feel well the days following. After a few trips to the pediatrician, the doctor thought it was just a common virus. When things were not improving, we went to the Emergency Room at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. After bloodwork and several tests to figure out what was going on, she was diagnosed with Leukemia quickly in the ER. This was a total shock to us and not something that we were expecting at all!
Through further testing it was found she had the most common form of childhood leukemias called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Her world immediately turned upside down. After spending 2 weeks in the hospital undergoing intense treatments, she was able to come home. She started to lose her hair and had to switch to cyber school to complete first grade. She loved going to school in person, so this was a very challenging change for her. She had an awesome cyber teacher and finished first grade right on schedule!
She has been in treatment for over a year and a half and has been a trooper through the numerous hospital stays and long clinic visits. It was during one of these long hospital stays that we saw a pamphlet for Lending Hearts. One of the first activities that Kennedy was able to do in person since she was diagnosed (in the middle of a pandemic) was attend a movie at the theater with Lending Hearts. Kennedy has enjoyed many fun activities with Lending Hearts and looks forward to them each month. Activities have included everything from making your own pizza at a pizza shop to attending a Pirates game and getting to go out on the field with the players! It has also been wonderful to be able to connect with other families with similar experiences.
Kennedy's treatment plan has included several phases with different types of procedures and chemo including a clinical trial drug to prevent relapse. She did have one setback along the way with one particular chemo drug that has been used since the 1950's. This drug caused her liver to stop working properly and landed her in the PICU. After 60 doses of medication to reverse the issue, she was back to herself!
Fast forward to 2023, Kennedy was able to return to in person school in January to complete second grade. Her in person second grade teacher is also a childhood cancer survivor and was treated by some of the same doctors that we have seen at Children's! Kennedy was also able to return to participating in softball, girl scouts and swimming. We are so very proud of her and all that she has continued to accomplish and she has not let Leukemia hold her back. Kennedy is in the maintenance phase of her treatment plan and will continue treatment into 2024.