Kelsey soon celebrates nine years of life. Each of her nine years has been unique. She has endured so many inquiries, tests, and circumstances, many of them we as adults may not have experienced. To put it another way, it has been a journey. Each year of the journey has taught us something new. We are grateful for each year and the lessons we learned.
Year One taught us resilience. We spent 16 days hospitalized and torn apart as a family, each in pain with worry, concern, and lacking a diagnosis. By the first birthday celebration, we bounced back ready to learn more and find an answer. Each one of us was forever changed by the experiences that we can never fully explain.
Year Two taught us to advocate. In year one, we listened to poor medical advice and waited on others to seek solutions. Year one was painful. Year Two was the year of advocating. Remember to be your own advocate and advocate for your children’s needs, always. No one will ever care as much as you. We did not accept, “she is fine!” and we sought answers instead of waiting for them to come to us.
Year Three taught us to listen. Year Three gave us a diagnosis. We thought that would make life easier, but instead, it led us to more questions and further complexities. Medication battles with insurance and a true inability to process how little we knew made us listen more and savor small moments. Upon one biopsy that resulted in a huge incision on the neckline, the surgeon soothed a mother’s worry about the scar to say, “We have to make sure she sees her next birthday. This scar will help us figure out how to get her there.” Listen. Trust. Breathe. That was Year Three.
Year Four taught us promise. There was so much promise in the medication we were using and so much happiness and joy brought back to our life when the medication started to work for our child. A child who was once lifeless and listless was running and climbing stairs. Promise and joy were restored in many of Year Four’s moments.
Year Five taught us Vulnerability. We began this journey with Kelsey’s Kaleidoscope and we started to tell our story. We put ourselves out there and started to spread awareness and raise money for our foundation. We connected with others who shared our story. We were weak when Kelsey took a tough turn and faced the return of frequent hospital visits and scans. We had a fridge full of medication that no longer eased pain or brought joy. We were vulnerable and scared.
Year Six taught us patience. We trusted and prayed and after eight months of changes, a calm came for Kelsey. She was walking, running, and smiling with ease. We were patient and we were grateful.
Year Seven taught us endurance. The road had been long and pain Kelsey started to feel emotionally and physically transferred to each member of her family in some way. We laughed, we cried, and we got each other through. It was not without a long road and another failed medication. Spots, weakness, and pain returned to bruise emotions and bodies.
Year Eight taught us hope. We were beyond touched by the community efforts and new faces that learned of our journey and cared. We published a book, we went on television, and we reflected on where we are at this time. We have hope and gratitude.
Year Nine is unknown and undefied. Together, we are ready to persevere and lift each other. We plan ahead and dream big. We thank you for your support and kindness. We wish Kelsey a happy ninth birthday and pray for all of her wishes to come true.