Kayla, now 6-years-old, was diagnosed with High Risk Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in June 2007. Since the time of diagnosis, we have been told over and over again to make life "as normal as possible,” for Kayla. This advice has come from doctors, family, friends, and even other parents of childhood cancer fighters. We have discovered that this is nearly impossible to do when you have other children to tend to as well as your sick child. Kayla has an older brother Shawn, 15, and a little sister Ava, who is almost 3.
For Kayla, we have tried to keep things “normal” by letting her continue with dance class, attend school and play like the other children, but there is a sense of "non-normalcy" for our two other children. Shawn and Ava are witness to Kayla’s spotlight, so to speak. Kayla’s story and photos have been posted on many websites, and she has been a part of a program called ChemoAngels, which sends cards, letters and gifts to the ill child. Every time Kayla gets a card, letter, gift, is honored, or has a function held in her name, I feel as though our other children may feel less important. I wish there was more support for the siblings of cancer patients, because they have to go through so much. Although they don't have to go to countless clinic visits, hospitalizations, or receive chemotherapy, they do have to witness these things and I think they get tired of being in the background.
We have tried to make sure that they know they are special and loved just as much as Kayla, and that her treatment is ending soon (October 2009). In reality though, Kayla will have to continue to be seen in the clinic monthly for blood tests, will have to go to the hospital for fevers and she will still be watched closer than a normal child. Instilling normalcy has been a very difficult task for our family.
Written by Susan Danzi, Kayla’s Mother