I’d like you to meet another young beautiful child who fought childhood cancer, Kylie Rowand. She was born in May 2012 in the San Diego area and was truly the apple of her parent’s eye. She was their first baby and they were so in love with her. Kylie was a happy, smiling and healthy baby until December 2013 when her mom took her to the doctor for a swollen eye. Kylies parents had no idea the road they were about to embark on.
That swollen eye ended up being stage 4 neuroblastoma and Kylie’s body was covered in tumors. She wasn’t even 2 years old, but she endured more treatments than you can imagine. Not long after her diagnosis she was airlifted from San Diego to New York for an intense 7 hour surgery where they removed the main tumor in her abdomen, left adrenal gland, 57 lymph nodes, and did a biopsy of her liver and lungs. Because this was all so hard on her body she soon went into septic shock and was rushed to the PICU. Her heart rate was 200 and temperature was 105 degrees. Can you imagine? A BABY going through all of this. And her parents having to watch, trying to help, but not being able to.
Kylie went on fighting for 13 months with just one new horrible thing after another. Finally in February of 2015, the doctors saw that her body was taken over by tumors; there was nothing left to do. He little body could not keep going. Obviously, the family was devastated when their baby passed away on February 7th 2015.
One of the reasons I tell you these stories is for awareness, but not just awareness of the disease. Also to be aware of the toll this takes on a family. When Bree, Kylies mom took her daughter to New York for months of treatment, her dad, Luke, had to stay back home to work so he could pay the mounting bills. I cannot fathom being across the country while my child was fighting so hard to live- but it’s the reality. Bills don’t stop piling up when your baby is sick.
When something like cancer happens to a family, their lives go on hold immediately. The ONLY thing the family is thinking about is keeping their child alive. There are no vacations, girl’s nights, fun trips to the zoo or other things we all do. The family lives at the hospital, of course not wanting to leave their child, and that is sure emotionally and physically exhausting.
When a child dies, it puts a huge strain on a marriage. (among other things) Parents are shattered, and are not the same people as they were before. People grieve differently even when they are grieving the same loss. Not only is there the emotional toll, but also the financial toll. Families who battle cancer often come out with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. This just add to the stress.
Thankfully, the opposite happened when Bree and Luke lost their Kylie. Their faith and their relationship grew stronger. They grieved together along with their family and decided they were going to do everything in their power to erase cancer!
Since Kylie’s death, her family has started the Kylie Rowand Foundation. Their program Love Like Kylie provides smiles and joy to kids battling cancer. They are able to find out the age, hobbies the child likes, and favorite things and they send these kids personalized packages. Another program they have is Kylie Kare. This program raises money for families of those who are in the midst of battling childhood cancer. Finally, through the foundation, they have raised and donated over $150,000 to go to research. It is always so bittersweet to me to see this families who’ve lost a child try to do something good for others.
Finally, I’m happy to tell you that Bree and Luke now have a healthy baby boy, Lucas and another little one coming soon. I’m sure Kylie is looking down from Heaven at her family and smiling.