2017 Chicagoland CureSearch Superheroes Unite!

Kellen Before and After
Kellen Before and After

Kellen's Fight Club

Kellen's journey started when he was 17 months old. On a Sunday, Kellen was getting ready for a bath when we noticed a strange bump on his lower-right abdomen area. Thinking the bump was a hernia, we immediately called the pediatrician who scheduled an appointment for Monday morning to take a look. The next day Kellen was seen by his pediatrician, who immediately said something so difficult, we could hardly believe what we were hearing: "I don’t like how this feels”. This was the first moment that we realized Kellen was possibly facing cancer. Kellen was immediately brought to the local hospital to undergo blood test, an ultrasound, then his CT scan. After the tests were completed, we sat in the waiting for what seemed like 100 years to hear the results. Finally, the call came. Kellen had cancer. A Wilms tumor to be exact. Our world came crashing down.


Kellen’s Wilms tumor was the size of a small football and was growing off of his right kidney. From this point on his care would now fall in the hands of one of the best Oncology teams in the world at Ann & Robert H. Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. Kellen was at Lurie Children’s on Wednesday for another round of pokes and scans. After the doctors got a handle on the situation, surgery was scheduled. He had surgery the next Monday, only one week after his first trip to the pediatrician. Imagine that. One Monday morning we thought he had a hernia, and exactly one week later we were heading in to major surgery, wondering what the future holds. On the day of surgery, we were a wreck, and Kellen was scared. We were able to be with him during sedation in the pre-op room. After they took him away to surgery, they closed the curtain around us for privacy. We fell apart. After waiting what seemed another 100 years in the waiting room, the surgeon came out letting us know he was stable. They removed his right kidney, and the lymph node, and the mass. He also had a central port installed in his chest. This port would be the place where blood would be drawn, and where his chemotherapy would be administered.


Soon after surgery came his treatment. Kellen underwent 20 weeks of chemotherapy and intensive monitoring. During this 20 weeks, Kellen would become immune compromised causing him to endure in-hospital stays in isolation, multiple emergency room visits due to fevers, and a blood transfusion as his blood counts were dangerously low. His port became a major point of concern during this time as we were unsure whether it became infected. Through this storm Kellen had to be pulled out of his routine at daycare, and was not able to see his friends. It was very difficult and isolating for him.

Kellen is now almost 5 years off of treatment, and is monitored every 6 months for reoccurrence. He is happy and healthy thanks to the incredible care from his health providers. Kellen is one of the lucky cases. One major reason many kids lose this struggle is research for pediatric cancer is grossly underfunded. 5 of the 43 children diagnosed every day do not survive their fight. We’ve decided to take a stand and fight, but we cannot do this alone. We need your help supporting our fight, and giving hope to our most vulnerable…our kids. Help us kick cancer’s butt!

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CureSearch for Childrens Cancer

4600 East West Highway, Suite 600, Bethesda, MD 20814
erin.richey@curesearch.org | (240) 235-2272