Kennedy, Cancer Survivor, Age 3

Meet Kennedy, Age 3

Fevers usually clear up after a few days for most kids, but Kennedy wasn’t so lucky. After battling a fever for three weeks, Kennedy’s pediatrician referred her for a chest X-ray. The results revealed that Kennedy’s entire chest cavity was filled with fluid. Pediatric cardiologist Carissa Baker-Smith, MD met with the family and prepped Kennedy for draining the fluid. A follow-up X-ray revealed something else: a mass on Kennedy’s heart.

“When the biopsy came back, I was in complete shock—cancer was definitely not on my mind,” Kennedy’s mom Melvise said.

Kennedy was diagnosed with a very rare form of mixed germ cell tumor. The pediatric oncology team, including Regina Macatangay, MD, Ashley Munchel, MD and Teresa York, MD, got to work and started Kennedy on four rounds of chemotherapy.

Caring for Kennedy during her six months of treatment was truly a team effort from the Children’s Hospital team, including support from child life, social work and pastoral care.

“Being in the hospital for that long was really tough for all of us, but it made her smarter—her vocabulary advanced very quickly once she realized that crying wasn’t the way to communicate,” Kennedy’s dad Brandon said.

Kennedy officially became cancer free in January. She comes back to UMCH periodically to meet with Dr. Baker-Smith and she is a lifelong patient in the oncology follow-up program. Her cells are currently being used in a UMCH study to understand the progression of her rare type of tumor.

Most importantly, she’s back to being a regular kid: she enjoys being active with swimming, soccer, and dancing!


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