My family calls me chickadee because when I was a baby, I had no hair. They said I looked like a baby chick with just a few pieces of hair sticking up. It’s always been hard for me to grow my hair out, but this year I finally did it. My hair reached past my shoulders. It was long, and I loved it. Then I got diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, AML. I knew the day would come that I would lose all of my hair. The day I shaved my head has been one of the hardest so far. I don’t cry that often, but that day was tough. I couldn’t keep it in.
The day Karlee was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, I was in shock. You never in your wildest dreams think your kid is going to be sick like this. We had a couple choices on where to do treatment, but we wanted to stay here in central Illinois with all our family and friends. Karlee has to be inpatient for close to five months for treatment. Being admitted to OSF Children’s Hospital was our best option. They had the right treatment plan for us and we could be close to our home in Washington. I’ll never forget the first day of chemo. She kept getting sick. She looked at me and said she didn’t think she could do this. I told her that she’s a fighter, and yes she can. There is no other option. From then on, we chose to be positive. We are so grateful for the care she has received here at this hospital. Each week, one of our family or friends brings in a meal or snack for the staff, just to say thank you. Our family and friends are our support system while we are here. Karlee might actually already have the record for number of visitors. That is what keeps her going and positive. We all fight for Karlee now because we know she can do this and she will kick cancer’s butt.
I’m grateful for the nurses and doctors here at Children’s Hospital of Illinois that have helped me stay positive. Most of them get it. They get that I’m old enough to understand what they are talking about. They walk with me to get a frappuccino from the café or help keep me busy. I’m one of the oldest kids here right now, so it’s hard sometimes to see all the young kids and babies on my floor getting treatment because they can’t always communicate what they need or what’s hurting them. But I stay positive and keep focused on finishing treatments so I can go home. My aunt and mom decorated my hospital room with pictures, decorations and plug-in room fresheners to make it feel more like home. My mom has been right by my side this entire time. We usually are always on the go, so it is a big change to be stuck in this room, in the hospital. We are learning patience.
My friends and boyfriend all started college this fall. My dream since forever ago was to go to school to be a nurse. That’s on hold while I am at OSF Children’s Hospital getting my treatments. I keep telling myself only a few more months, and then I can concentrate on getting back on track for college. My nurses here have been so inspirational. It’s been cool to see them do their job first-hand. I hope one day to be doing the exact same thing as them. I can’t wait. I can’t wait to meet my friends at Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee and homework study dates. I can’t wait to get my nails done again. I can’t wait to just get in my car and drive, whenever I want, wherever I want. I can’t wait to be a nurse and help sick kids, just like me.