Meet our Honorary Hero
Kaitlyn is a 9-year-old girl who loves cheerleading, dance and making new friends. But for most of her life, she has battled cancer. She was 18 months old when her parents noticed a bump on the head would easily turn to a bruise. Then a rash broke out all over her body. Finally, a fever hit.
A trip to Children’s Health revealed she had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer. Her parents, James and Mandy, signed a stack of consent forms and promised their daughter they wouldn’t stop until she was cancer free. Kaitlyn endured chemotherapy treatment for two and a half years at Children’s Medical Center Dallas to fight the cancer.
The treatment works for a lot of kids, but a few months after Kaitlyn finished, the cancer returned. Her doctor suggested the family enroll Kaitlyn in a clinical trial for a new immunotherapy in Pennsylvania. The CART T-cell treatment -- tried by only a few dozen patients at the time -- meant doctors would remove Kaitlyn’s T-cells, the defenders of her immune system, and reengineer them so they could fight the cancer.
Kaitlyn was 4 years old when the family began the treatment in Pennsylvania. Eight weeks and two infusions later, her parents feared the worst when the doctor called James late one night. He picked up the phone and began to cry, but this time, they were happy tears: The treatment worked, and Kaitlyn was in remission. “I have only experienced that type of overwhelming joy several times in my life. The only thing that comes close to comparison is the first time I held her in my arms,” James said.
To support patients like Kaitlyn, register today to fundraise for the Children Helping Children Tennis Tournament.