Brave girl battles tumour

Family of 10-year-old receiving support from community in fight against cancer

Jennifer Read admits that her daughter Kaylene is dealing with a tumour in her brain better than she is.

"She's only broken down and cried once and that was before her MRI," said Read. "She was scared, but I did get to go to the room with her so it was ok."

Kaylene Farrell, a 10-year-old girl from the Peace Region, was found to have a tumour last week, and is currently in the Stollery's Children Hospital in Edmonton, said Read.

Kaylene splits her time with her mother and stepfather Trent Read in Fort St. John and her biological father Edward Farrell in Dawson Creek.

For Kaylene, the trouble began six months ago, when she began to have headaches.

"Both her father and stepfather and I had noticed they were becoming more frequent," Read said. "On Jan. 22, she woke up her stepdad at five in the morning when I was at work and she had a headache so bad she was vomiting. We thought it was weird that a 10-year-old had a migraine."

They brought her into the Fort St. John hospital, where doctors began to perform tests on her.

"The doctor noticed that when he put his finger in front of her eyes and asked her to follow it to the right, it was normal and when her eye movement to the left there was a bit of a twitch," Read said.

A CT scan would later confirm the worst.

"They told us to go into the waiting room to wait the 15 minutes just to see if she had an allergic reaction (to the dye injected for the CT Scan)," Read said. "Our 15 minutes were up and we were about to walk out the door when they told us to go to emergency."

Doctors would later tell Read that they had found a 3.5 cm by 3.5 cm by four centimetre tumour in Kaylene's brain.

Read said that they asked to be transferred to the Stollery Children's Hospital, as she had family in Edmonton. They are currently staying in her brother's home.

They are also waiting for doctors to tell them about what type of tumour Kaylene currently has.

Read said that doctors believe that Kaylene is facing two types of tumours. One could be closer to the brain stem, and aggressive surgery would be needed that could hurt her facial movements, tongue, and swallowing. The other would not be as bad and doctors could leave a bit of the tumour inside for them to treat more successfully with chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Despite the circumstances Kaylene faces, Read said that doctors have told her that they have seen worse.

"The doctor had mentioned that when patients do come with this they're usually in a coma-like state," Read added. "They're excited in a way. They can see her personality - that she's a happy kid, she's outgoing, she loves life basically.

Currently, Kaylene's mother, father, step-father and siblings are staying in Edmonton together while waiting for the results to come in.

"We get along and do what's best for the kids," Read said.

However, even after the surgery set for Tuesday, the family will still have an arduous trek before Kaylene can come home. Read said that in the best case scenario told to her by doctors, Kaylene will be home in a month. But there is still a chance of hydrocephalus, a condition where liquid on the brain piles up and would have to be drawn down to Kaylene's abdomen. That could mean nearly five months in Edmonton.

After learning about Read's situation, and the financial pressures it would put on her, friends of the family have stepped up to help.

"Sharlene (Gevatkoff) is the one who's started all this," said Read. "It's pretty amazing, just the way that everybody has donated. It makes me tear up just to think of how supportive everyone is."

Gevatkoff said that when she learned about Kaylene's disease, she wanted to help her family out.

"It became an automatic reflex," she added.

A Facebook group has sprung up to help out the family, and Gevatkoff said that she is pleased to see the support come in.

"There's been tons of people," she said.

The effects are already starting to help for Kaylene and her family.

"We've already received some donations, and it's helped tremendously," she said. "We're going to Costco today and we're buying groceries for the next month."

And these efforts are ones Read appreciates.

"I'm just really thankful for what everybody has done for us," she said. "I don't know how I'll ever repay everybody but it's just amazing."

Currently, fundraising organizers have set up a silent auction scheduled for Feb. 16 at the Bear Mountain Ski Hill at 7 p.m.

Web users can check out a Facebook group, "Fundraising and Support for Kaylene Farrell and Family," or call 250-782-8792 for more information.

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