Kayla’s cancer journey
Cancer survivor to participate in her 17th Terry Fox Run
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.”
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.