A special message from a special Angel
Hi, I’m Kelsey Kuhns. I will be 11 years old on October 8th. I have one sister, Kylie, who is 7, and my mom and dad, are Tina and Lynn Kuhns. I was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia a month before my 5th birthday. For 2 ½ years, I went through Chemotherapy at Geisinger. After I completed my 2 ½ years of treatment, I was off treatment for 2 ½ years and then relapsed when I was 9 years old. Usually if you are going to relapse, 90% of patients relapse the first year off of treatment. I was doing very well and feeling great. My family and I would have never thought I would have relapsed.
Because I relapsed, my doctors suggested that I have a Stem Cell Transplant. My sister, Kylie was tested to see if she could be my donor. To be a donor you need to have at least 3 of 6 matching antigens. Kylie had all 6 matching antigens. A Stem Cell Transplant is very successful if it is a sibling match and a same sex match. Kylie and I were even the same blood type. She was a big help and was very proud to help me. We were lucky because only 20% of siblings are a match. I had my Stem Cell Transplant at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Prior to the transplant I had Radiation at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and then Chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The chemo and radiation dropped all my cells to zero, to allow for the new growth of Kylie’s cells. I was at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for 5 weeks. My mom and dad stayed with me the whole time.
I had school every day in my hospital room. My Aunt Amie and my grandma (Darla Knause) took care of Kylie at home. When I was released to come home I was only allowed to be with my mom, dad, Kylie, my grandma and my teacher that came to keep me up to date on my school work every day. My doctors did not know if I would be able to go back to school at all last year. But I was back by the last week of February.
Kylie and I recently celebrated our 1 year transplant “birthday” on September 4th. My Mom and Dad had a surprise Birthday party at our house. All transplant patients get to celebrate this day. I’m lucky because Kylie and I get to celebrate a birthday together now.
This year I am back to school, from the beginning of the year and I love it. I am in the Middle School. My teacher is Ms. Rowe. I do very well academically. I love to be very active. I’m involved in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, soccer, piano, Nutcracker in Williamsport, Basketball and softball. I even made it to All Stars for Softball, in the spring.
I now go to CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) every 2 weeks for checkups and a new IV medicine. By the end of this year, I should be bumped to every 3 weeks and then every 4 weeks. I am doing well and regaining my strength and energy. I have had some rashes that have set me back a little. They are called GVHD (Graft vs. Host Disease). This is when my T-cells are growing so quickly that my body recognizes them and fights a little.
I would like to thank everyone that helped me in any way. I would also like to thank my Mom, Dad, Grandma (Darla Knause), Aunt Amie, Friends, Doctors and a great BIG thanks to my sister Kylie. I could not have done it without you, Kylie. I love you!
Also, a word of encouragement to anyone who might be going through something similar, stay STRONG. Don’t give up! Stay Positive! And my motto is FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION!!
(Written by Kelsey on September 13, 2004. Kelsey passed away on November 1, 2005.)