Kayla’s can­cer jour­ney

Can­cer sur­vivor to par­tic­i­pate in her 17th Terry Fox Run

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS

At 24 years old, Vic­to­ria na­tive Kayla Prid­dle lives life with a smile on her face and a bounce in her step, even af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some pretty chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions in her young life.

Kayla, who is cur­rently re­sid­ing in Mount Pearl, is a sur­vivor of Acute Lym­phoblas­tic Leukemia (ALL), a type of can­cer that af­fects the white blood cells in bone mar­row (in­ner­most part of the bone).

Lynne Prid­dle, Kayla’s mom, re­mem­bers the day Kayla was di­ag­nosed, al­though she be­lieves it hap­pened by ac­ci­dent.

“Kayla fell off the stairs on her bike,” Lynne said dur­ing a phone in­ter­view with The Com­pass. “She said she was fine but her lit­tle fin­ger hurt.”

Lynne and her late hus­band Philip didn’t think any­thing was wrong right away. It was a few days later be­fore Kayla be­gan to limp. They brought her to a doc­tor.

“The doc­tor told us to start giv­ing her baby Aspirin and then she start­ing get­ting weaker and weaker,” Lynne re­called.

On Oct. 14, 1991 — Thanks­giv­ing Day — Kayla could barely walk so her par­ents brought her to Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal. She was im­me­di­ately trans­ferred to The Janeway Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal in St. John’s where they told her fam­ily the news.

Two months shy of her third birth­day, Kayla was di­ag­nosed with ALL.

Kayla en­tered re­mis­sion af­ter only a few rounds of chemo­ther­apy, when doc­tors told her mom there were less can­cer cells in her body. But her fight was far from over.

Both Kayla and her mother ad­mit she had caught sev­eral ill­nesses while fight­ing the dis­ease.

Lynne ac­knowl­edged her son Lionel — who is a year older than Kayla — had to re­main with other rel­a­tives when he was sick.

“We had to ship him out for three weeks when he caught the chick­en­pox,” she said, but un­for­tu­nately Kayla had al­ready de­vel­oped symp­toms.

“I caught the chicken pox when I was in preschool and was in the hos­pi­tal for 18 days,” she ex­plained.

The Prid­dle fam­ily had their own dif­fi­cul­ties as well, in­clud­ing re­lo­cat­ing to St. John’s while Kayla was hav­ing treat­ment.

Af­ter 112 weeks of chemo ( 18 rounds) Kayla was done with her treat­ment, and in 1996, five years af­ter ini­tial di­ag­no­sis, she was can­cer free.

“Her doc­tor said that the can­cer was gone and he didn’t be­lieve it would ever come back,” Lynne said.

The only last­ing ef­fect that Kayla was con­cerned about, Lynne said, was that she might never have chil­dren.

Late sum­mer of 2008, Kayla’s fa­ther Philip had a heart at­tack and was re­quired to have a chest x-ray.

“It was De­cem­ber be­fore the doc­tor seen the le­sions on his lungs,” Lynne spoke softly. “It was stage four melanoma.”

Melanoma is a form of can­cer that has ma­lig­nant me­tas­tases, or growths.

Stage four, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety, is dif­fi­cult to cure be­cause the growths have al­ready spread to other or­gans of the body.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the can­cer went to his brain and it was too late,” Kayla said.

Even though the doc­tor’s gave him six-to-12 months to live, he sur­passed it but even­tu­ally lost his bat­tle in June 2010.

On July 26, 2013 lit­tle Philip, Kayla’s new­born son who was named af­ter his grand­fa­ther, was born.

She says her fa­ther was very proud of her in ev­ery­thing she did and gave her son his name­sake to con­tinue his legacy.

“Philip was also born on my dad’s birth­day,” Kayla ex­plained. “He’s never go­ing to let me for­get him.”

Kayla does not look at the neg­a­tive in any of her ex­pe­ri­ences and she con­tin­ues to look at the glass half-full.

“If I had to ex­pe­ri­ence can­cer again, I think I could get through it.”

For the past 17 years Kayla has been a proud sup­porter of the Terry Fox Run, a run to raise funds for can­cer re­search.

The run was named af­ter can­cer re­search en­thu­si­ast Terry Fox — a sin­gle leg am­putee — who lost his own bat­tle with can­cer while run­ning across Canada in 1981 for the same cause.

Once a year groups all around the world join to­gether to take part in the event.

To date, there has been more than $600 mil­lion raised for the cause (http://www.ter­ry­fox.org/Ter­ry­Fox/M is­sion_S­tate­ment.html).

“I be­gan to run be­cause I was a can­cer sur­vivor,” Kayla said. “I con­tinue to run be­cause I want to help out.”

Can­cer sur­vivors are given red tshirts to show they are mem­bers of “Terry’s team,” a name given to all those who par­tic­i­pate who have beaten or are fight­ing their ill­ness.

Lynne joins her daugh­ter on the walk each year and hopes for a larger turn out this year.

“My mom gives me the drive to keep go­ing,” Kayla ex­plained.

Both women agree that the walk is a great way to help sup­port the cause be­cause ev­ery­one is touched by can­cer in one way or an­other, even chil­dren.

“You never know it could be your child or some­one close to you in the fu­ture,” Kayla ex­plained. “Es­pe­cially in such a small area where ev­ery­one knows each other. Why not help now and not when it may be too late?”

This year’s Terry Fox run for Con­cep­tion Bay North will take place at St. Fran­cis Field in Har­bour Grace on Sept. 15.

Kayla will be there in her “Terry’s team” shirt and in­vites all those touched by can­cer in any way to join her, no min­i­mum pledge re­quired.

“You’ll meet a lot of great peo­ple that you’ll re­mem­ber for the rest of your life.”

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/spe­cial to The Com­pass

Kayla Prid­dle, a 24-year-old can­cer sur­vivor, makes a visit to the Terry Fox Me­mo­rial on Wa­ter Street in St. John’s. She has been tak­ing part in the Terry Fox Run in Har­bour Grace for 17 years.

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