CLEVELAND — Cancer doesn’t discriminate, you’ve probably heard that before. And that includes children, the tiniest of patients.
But there is help, locally. It’s called The Gathering Place and it’s for anyone on the cancer journey. It's for their families too.
For sisters, Kylie and Kaitlyn Earl – The Gathering Place is for exploring, laughing and fun. It’s a place that’s helped Kyle Earl and her family cope through the most difficult time in their lives - by offering activities like cooking, music, and support groups.
Kylie is now nine years old, but at just three, she was diagnosed with cancer. She went through 43 weeks of chemotherapy, 6 weeks of radiation and multiple surgeries.
"It hurt really bad and I had to lay in a hospital bed for a long time," Kylie said.
But her little side-kick, younger sister Kaitlyn, helped push her through the scariest moments, like MRIs and IVs.
According to Kaitlyn, everyone thinks they are twins, but the Earls are two years apart, and Kaitlyn says she’s taller, even though she's the younger sister!
These sisters had different journeys, one spent endless nights a hospital bed while the other stayed home. But their bond remains unbroken.
"I’ve helped her with everything. If she has bad things happening, I will always help her," Kaitlyn said.
"Going through it was very difficult, there were days you weren’t sure you were going to get through it," their mom Jennifer added.
But together, this family did. And happily, Kylie has been cancer-free for five years.
"I always wanted two weeks, three weeks, four weeks... I remember us talking about whether or not she’d make it to kindergarten and here she is in second grade," father Marc said.
Kylie is now a small cancer survivor with a big story to tell. One of hope, one of a survival and one of two sisters who’ve gathered all of their strength - to fight cancer – together.
"I’ve learned that I can get through it and if I can other people can too," Kylie said. "I think it inspires other kids to know that what you are going through can be scary but somehow you will get out of it."
The Earl family is involved in the Gathering Place’s Children’s and Teens with cancer program. They also participate in family night. The Gathering place helps all families cope - financially, emotionally, mentally and physically. And you can help fund the program.
The Gathering Place is hosting its annual Race for the Place on Sunday June 6th – also National cancer Survivors day. And you are invited for the virtual 5K or 1 Mile walk or run. Money raised go directly to free programs for all families on the cancer journey. If you’d like to participate, you can find more info here.
The below link and video also featured Laura Caso spotlighting The Gathering Place:
More from Laura Caso: