On February 1, 2018 Kaylee Marshfield turned 6 years old. That same day her parents received a call explaining why their eldest daughter had been sick for several weeks. Todd and Kristina were told Kaylee had a Wilm’s Tumor, a rare form of childhood cancer.
I met Kaylee and her family in August 2018 at the New York State Fair; it was six months after her diagnosis and at the time Kaylee was in the midst of chemotherapy treatment and had lost all her hair and half her body weight. I spent the remaining five days of the fair with Kaylee and her family, slowly learning more about Kaylee’s condition and the family’s struggle to endure the financial and emotional strain of caring for a very sick child. As weeks and then months passed we grew close and it became clear hers was not "just" the story of a child with cancer but rather one of the nuanced dynamics of a family as they together navigate her diagnosis, treatment and life once found cancer-free. Through it all, Kaylee has balanced life as a first-grader, daughter, sister and cancer patient with the grace and maturity of someone many times her age.
If I’d been told one of the most significant relationships I’d form in 2018 would be to a young girl of 7 I'd have found that difficult to imagine. But, near a year later, I've much gratitude for this young lady; her ongoing trust has taught me the value of long-term work and, without knowing it, Kaylee has kept me grounded and in touch with my own inner child, providing balance and an element of life I hadn’t known was missing.