At age 8, two-time cancer survivor using experience to help others

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 10:43 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kaydence Hare is a typical eight-year-old girl.

She likes to sing and dance, and has an interest in fashion, too.

“Kaydence’s personality is very outgoing,” her mom Cori Hare said. “She really doesn’t know a stranger. She’s smart.”

What’s not so typical are her scars. Kaydence will point them out at her collarbone, on her chest, and across her stomach. The latter is where doctors removed her kidney - and the cancer that infected it.

Cori says she and her husband took Kaydence, who is their first child, for her usual well check when she was 15-months old.

“The nurse practitioner that she saw that day was just doing her exam and felt her abdomen and felt something hard,” Cori said. “The world literally turned up-side-down within 12 hours.”

Kaydence was fighting Wilm’s Tumor, a cancer of the kidneys. Fortunately, it was stage 1. Kaydence had surgery, with no other treatment needed.

But at age two and a half, doctors found Wilm’s Tumor in her remaining kidney. This time, she needed both surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy.

“As a mom, it’s tough because we’re cognizant of what’s going on and what’s actually happening,” Cori said.

Stormont Vail Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Youmna Othman says the good news is childhood cancer survival rates are fairly high. But even one child lost is one too many. Plus, more study is needed on the long term effects of often grueling treatments.

“My kids aren’t going to live another five years - their life expectancy is another 70, 80 years. That’s a long time. A long time for the chemotherapy drugs that we gave to cause some problems. A lot of time for the radiation to cause some delays,” she said.

Plus, going through cancer treatment is traumatic.

“This is a kid that should be running outside playing, and now we’re sticking them in a hospital bed, we’re sticking them in clinic every so often for procedures,” Dr. Othman said. “Their idea of normal is different, and that’s not fair to them.”

Cori says she appreciates the pediatric oncology team and child life specialists they encountered. Because of them, she says, Kaydence’s memories focus on the fun parts.

“We got a toy like every time we went,” Kaydence laughs.

But Kaydence remembers what it meant to her. So when she heard the toy room was running low during the pandemic, she told her mom she could take care of that. Kaydence formed an online wish list, which brought in dozens of items to restock.

It’s a small way to help those with their own scars.

“(My scars) mean, like, I’m unique and I like being unique,” Kaydence said.

September will mark five years cancer-free for Kaydence.

“To look at her and watch her every day, you would never know,” Cori said. “She’s getting to have a normal life as a kid for right now.”

Both Cori and Kaydence say it’s important to raise awareness of childhood cancer, and be sure it’s part of the conversations when it comes to funding research and support services.

“People need to be healthy,” Kaydence said. “They need care.”

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