Kellie was diagnosed with aplastic anemia in March 2005 when she was eleven years old. After two years of unsuccessful treatment, she was diagnosed with a second disease: PNH. Fortunately, she was able to receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant from her brother at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This fall, Kellie will continue her undergraduate studies at Carson-Newman University, in her home state of Tennessee, where she will begin her sophomore year. She is pursuing a degree in nursing – a degree for which she is inspired not only by her own experiences, but also the experiences of those she has loved and befriended. When she was undergoing treatment, she knew many children afflicted with cancer who subsequently passed away. Her mother is currently battling breast cancer. As a result, she is working towards her goal to become an oncology nurse.
She is an excellent student and a leader. Kellie has compiled close to a 3.7 GPA during her freshman year of college, and while in high school was co-president of the student body. An active volunteer, she has participated in the Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure and the planning of a Relay for Life Event. Kellie has also raised over $1,200 for St. Jude Hospital and spends time with residents of a local nursing home.
In Her Own Words
Most people don’t like to talk about the psychological damage because it’s scary and lasts longer than the physical scars do. Over my time at the local hospital and St. Jude, I met so many children who have forever changed my life. The only thing is that most of them have passed away because of cancer. For being nineteen years old, I have been to far too many funerals. After a while, the death that seemed to be constantly surrounding me eventually got to me. I felt guilty for surviving when most of my friends didn’t.
I look at my situation and know that I have two options. Option one consists of me feeling sorry for myself and letting the guilt rule my life. I would live a very cynical and bitter life. Or, I can take option two; I can look at the challenge I faced as a blessing. I can be joyful that I met those children who changed my life because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be me. It’s a struggle, but every day I choose the second option.
Because of the challenge I faced, I choose to not accept being mediocre. My dream is to be an oncology nurse so I can help other children who are going through the same thing I went through. I don’t live for myself anymore; I live for those kids who didn’t get a chance to live their full life. They are my inspiration to never give up. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my friends who passed away. Every time I see their faces in my mind, it reminds me that I have the opportunity to live.