Reaching for the Stars
This photo is my favorite because it represents the hope we all had for a cure. Jennie was literally reaching for the stars.
The only thing worse than hearing the words “Your child has cancer” is hearing the words “Your child’s cancer is back.” There was no cure. Through no fault of her own, Jennie’s osteosarcoma had returned before she got her first set of 3-month follow-up scans. It was obvious the standard MAP protocol had not worked. At all. We knew we didn’t have much time left with Jennie.
With that said, Jennie was feeling really good. The chemotherapy that did nothing but wreck her bone marrow and make her sick was finally over. We decided to fit a lifetime of memories into whatever time she had left. Whatever she wanted, we just did. We had family pictures taken. We went to Walt Disney World and took her very best friend with us. We went skydiving. We saw and swam in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. We walked on the beach. We ate everything and anything she wanted. And we shopped. Boy, did we shop! There is nothing more a teenage girl likes to do but shop. I learned to live more during that time than I had my entire life.
Childhood cancer gives you the highest highs and the absolute lowest lows you have ever experienced. Jennie’s life is over, but her story is not. I promised her I would do everything in my power to make a difference in osteosarcoma. It’s a daunting challenge. Survival rates have not changed for decades. The maximum benefit of chemotherapy for osteosarcoma has been achieved. Now what? It is very frustrating to know there are doctors who have dedicated their whole lives to finding a cure to have their efforts held back because there is no money.
Jennie’s been gone 628 days, but who’s counting? I’ve learned to live half alive. I’ve lost my girl. I lost the love I loved the most. I now shop alone.
Written by Kelly Nichols
Kelly Nichols is a stay-at-home Mom from Olathe, Kansas, where she lives with her husband Michael and their son, Graham. September 11, 2013, their 12 year old daughter, Jennie, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Jennie was treated at Children’s Mercy Hospital, one of the nation’s top 10 pediatric hospitals, in Kansas City. MO. Jennie underwent limb salvaging surgery, 7 different chemotherapies and a Phase I immunotherapy trial. Nothing worked. Jennie died June 20, 2015.