PATIENT SPOTLIGHT: Sadie K.
My name is Sadie Keller, and I’m 12 years old. On February 25th, 2015 I heard a word that changed my life forever. I was a soccer player, I loved hanging out with my friends, and going to school. In winter of 2014, when I was 7, I started getting sick.
I got the Flu, then strep throat shortly after, and felt so tired all the time. At one of my soccer games I couldn’t catch my breath. I had asthma when I was little, so we thought it may be returning. When I was back at school one day I noticed these little red dots on my legs. They were all over my thighs, stomach, and wrists. We now know that they were petechiae from low platelets. I got more and more pale, and my symptoms got more and more strange, so my mom called my pediatrician to see what it could be. I had seen her several times through all of these things happening so she was aware of everything that had already happened. My pediatrician called in for me to get blood drawn to try and figure out what could be causing all of this.
The following Monday, my mom picked me up from school early that morning. I was so confused why we were going back to the doctor, we had just been there. Once we arrived, they took us right back to a room. I was sitting on my moms lap when my pediatrician said “Sadie’s lab results came back and they show that she has Acute Leukemia, it’s cancer”. I couldn’t believe what I heard. My parents started to cry. I whispered in my moms ear “Mom, am I going to die?” I thought, because that’s what I thought, you get cancer and you die. She said “No baby, you’re going to be okay”. We were immediately sent to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and I started chemo that very night, had surgery the next morning to place my port and my journey began
For over 2 ½ years I received thousands of doses of chemo, had 19 spinal taps, more pokes than I can count, lost my hair 8 times, had 6 surgeries, and went through some of the scariest and rarest side effects . As hard as all of this was, I was determined to stay positive. I didn’t want to be mad that I got cancer, so I chose to be grateful for every single day. I would make my nurses and doctors treats and surprises and take them to the Hospital every week when I went to get chemo. It was so fun for me to make and it took my mind off everything I was going through. I actually would get excited to go to the hospital for chemo each week so that I could pass out all the goodies I had made for them.
I was in the hospital the entire first month of being diagnosed. Eight days after having my port placed, I got a fever and found out that I was septic with an e’coli bacteria. So now, not only did I have cancer in my blood, but I also had a bacteria infection from having no immunity to fight germs. I was sick and it was a really scary time. I was very new to this cancer world. I had only just been diagnosed eight days before. I was literally plucked out of my very normal life and placed on an oncology floor in the hospital for a month. During this month I realized I wasn’t alone. Throughout the month, as I would go for a walk down the hallways to stretch my legs, I would see so many children. They also didn’t have hair. This is when I realized this was happening to many, many children! Not just me.
When I was well enough to go home, I was so happy! It is so hard to be in the hospital for long periods of time. One day I decided to make a video about what it’s like to have cancer as a child. I wanted to let other kids going through cancer to know what to expect and that it will be okay. I made this video 3 months after I was diagnosed, and it now has been seen thousands of times.
Over the last 5 years I have become an advocate for childhood cancer to raise awareness and let people know that kids get cancer too. I began to Lobby on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. with the Kids V Cancer organization, to help get Bills passed that will increase funding and help more kids with cancer. Did you know that out of the billions of dollars that go to cancer research, that childhood cancer only receives 4%! This is just another reason why Sky High For Kids is so important! With your help, they are able to fill the gap in much needed research dollars so that all kids can be cured.
When I learned about the 4%, I knew I had to do something. This is why I chose to take my fight to Washington and meet with members of Congress to share my story and educate them on the realities of childhood cancer from a child. I am so happy that I have helped lobby and pass the RACE for Children Act, Creating HOPE Act and the STAR Act, in which I had the incredible opportunity to be by the President’s side in the Oval Office as it was signed into law. I work closely with Congressman Michael McCaul who is the co-founder and chair of the Childhood Cancer Caucus. This is also why (with my family’s help) I created the Sadie Keller Foundation. I know how hard it is to go through cancer, so I wanted to put smiles on the faces of childhood cancer fighters everywhere by giving them special gifts and remind them to keep fighting. So far we have been able to reach more than 60,000 childhood cancer fighters, across the country and in 11 Children’s hospitals by providing toys and gifts and we provide financial support to parents in the hospital for long periods of time with their child in DFW.
My goal is to raise awareness about childhood cancer and get more research so no kid has to go through what I went through and so that every child can survive. We are the future after all, and without us, there is no future. I am SO grateful to Miss Brittany, Miss Kristina, Miss Jessy and everyone at Sky High For Kids for all that they do to help kids with cancer! They are making a HUGE impact and I am so happy to share my story!