Kaley: Leukemia


“The spark has come back in her. I am so happy.”  

Natasha, Kaley's mom


Kaley is an outgoing and funny 13-year-old. “When do I get to sign autographs around here?” she quips, walking into Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando.

Kaley is also facing a struggle — she was diagnosed with leukemia in March 2013. Kaley’s mother, Natasha, says her family thought she had tonsillitis, because her main symptom was a swollen throat. But, when their family doctor called her to say the blood tests were abnormal, she says her heart fell. “I just knew,” she says. “I just knew she had cancer.”

More Twists and Turns

Her doctor told the family to take her to Nemours Children’s Hospital. After Kaley was admitted, she spent more than 160 straight days in the hospital receiving treatment. She had to get specialized treatment because an issue with her spine made it difficult for doctors to get medicine where it needed to go. Dr. Craig Johnson was the physician who essentially “mapped” her back and managed those treatments. Kaley and Dr. Johnson became friends, connecting about common interests, including fishing.

Although the treatment was difficult, Kaley was most upset about the fact that she couldn’t go to school and see her friends. But, with her usual sense of humor, she would say, “At least I have a cute doctor!”

A New Chapter

Now receiving outpatient chemotherapy, Kaley’s very excited to be back in school and in the seventh grade. She’ll also soon have a baby brother, expected around the two-year anniversary of her diagnosis.

Kaley also stays active in hospital events. She designed a T-shirt that was entered into a contest with the Orange County Firefighters — and her shirt won. The shirts were then available for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds going to Nemours. Ultimately, more than $6,000 was raised, and Kaley was given a special ride in a pink fire truck as Nemours Associates and patients cheered her on.

Her mom is so grateful for the care Kaley receives at Nemours. “The spark has come back in her,” says Natasha. “I am so happy.”