Cherokee County Herald - - VIEWPOINTS -

I am Larry’s sis­ter Chris­tine and af­ter hear­ing they had taken Kristy to the hospi­tal, my hus­band and I met Larry and Becky there. We are a very close fam­ily and are al­ways there for each other. They were told Kristy had ap­pen­dici­tis and send her to a Gads­den hospi­tal. Af­ter the doc­tors did more tests, they said she did not have ap­pen­dici­tis and weren’t sure what was go­ing on but knew it wasn’t good. Kristy was sent by am­bu­lance to Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal in Birm­ing­ham, Alabama. Becky was al­lowed ride with Kristy. I know that must have been a ter­ri­fy­ing trip for Kristy and Becky who had to have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a par­ents’ worst night­mare. Her five- year- old baby so sick and not know­ing what is wrong and as her mother not be­ing able to fix it or make it bet­ter.

Larry was in no state of mind to be driv­ing so he rode with me and my hus­band, which was the long­est trip we had ever been on. We tried to be pos­i­tive for Larry but there was noth­ing any­one could say or do to make things bet­ter. He was the dad and hus­band the pro­tec­tor, the one who fixed ev­ery­thing and made it all bet­ter. But he couldn’t fix this or make it go away. He had to be feel­ing help­less. We did a lot of pray­ing, ask­ing our Lord to take care of this pre­cious baby. Af­ter ar­riv­ing at Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal the night­mare con­tin­ued. More tests fi­nally gave an­swers you don’t want to ever hear. Kristy had a rare can­cer, called Wilms Tu­mor. One in one- hun­dred- thou­sand de­velop Wilms Tu­mor. It grows very fast but re­acts very well to treat­ment. But in her case she was in stage four, which was bad news. The doc­tors give her a fiftype­r­cent chance of sur­viv­ing. Larry and Becky told the doc­tors to do what was needed, to give her ev­ery chance to fight for her life. The first thing they needed to do was give her a blood trans­fu­sion. This lit­tle five-year-old went through eigh­teen months of chemo with four dif­fer­ent drugs, six weeks of ra­di­a­tion and surgery.

They re­moved her right kid­ney, the lower right lobe of her lung, part of her spleen, part of her pan­creas and part of her liver.

I went with Becky and Kristy to most of her treat­ments. Larry had to work. Even though they had in­sur­ance, the med­i­cal bills were over­whelm­ing. It was al­most just too much for a cou­ple to han­dle, but most im­por­tant was their baby sur­viv­ing and get­ting healthy. Kristy’s pride and joy was her beau­ti­ful long hair. The time came for Larry and Becky to tell Kristy she would lose her beau­ti­ful hair. I think that was the hard­est thing for Kristy to hear. She cried and cried. They told her they would get her a beau­ti­ful long wig and she was kind of okay with that.

Becky started stay­ing at a house near the hospi­tal that was set up for out-oftown fam­ily and less ex­pen­sive. That had to be so hard for Becky be­ing away from her fam­ily. I’m sure she felt the weight of the world on her shoul­ders. Lit­tle Kristy was so sick and mama and daddy couldn’t make it go away. With Larry be­ing home and work­ing go­ing to see Kristy when he could, I’m sure he was feel­ing so lost and help­less.

The coun­try band Alabama heard about Kristy and wanted to meet with her, de­cid­ing to close their fan club in Fort Payne, Alabama, to do so. Each

Pic­tured is Kristy Keener with her fam­ily. From left, are Kristy Dut­ton her mom, Becky Butts and her dad, Larry Dut­ton; her broth­ers, Mark Dut­ton and Chuck Dut­ton.

mem­ber of the group talked with Kristy. They were very kind and car­ing.

Kristy had a lot of heal­ing to do men­tally and phys­i­cally. It took a long time for Kristy to be able to sleep at night, she was afraid she would die in her sleep. She came and stayed with me some at night. We would stay up all night play­ing, watch­ing tele­vi­sion, cook­ing chicken fin­gers and her fa­vorite green beans. She would some­times ask me if she was go­ing to die, that broke my heart. A child should never have those thoughts. I can’t imag­ine how Larry or Becky made it through those try­ing times.

The doc­tors told Larry and Becky that Kristy would most likely never have chil­dren. That must have been hard for them, but Kristy was alive which was a bless­ing. She grew up to be a beau­ti­ful young lady. She has been mar­ried to Danny for twenty years. The Lord has blessed them with five beau­ti­ful chil­dren, Dariah, Cier­rah, Jonah, Micah and Eli­jah. The Lord knew she would be a won­der­ful mother. She made the de­ci­sion to get her GED. She got a schol­ar­ship and a Pell grant to go to nurs­ing school. She grad­u­ated from North East Col­lege and she was on the Dean’s List mak­ing her fam­ily very proud.

Kristy went to work at the Collinsville Nurs­ing Home. She had been work­ing about a year went she be­came preg­nant with lit­tle E. He is the most hand­some, pre­cious lit­tle fel­low you will ever meet. He has many chal­lenges ahead of him. He has some health is­sues, but he is a fighter like his mom. The Lord needed a spe­cial mom to love and care for this lit­tle guy and he has the best. Kristy is the bravest per­son I know. She strug­gles ev­ery­day with her own health and also with E while be­ing a great mom to her other four chil­dren and also a wife. But she never gives up and al­ways has a smile. Not many can say they have the courage that this young lady has. She has en­dured so much in her short life. She is a hero in my eyes. Life is some­times hard and seems un­fair but at the end of the day I think we can all find some­thing to be thank­ful for.

Chris­tine El­li­son Tip­ton, a res­i­dent of Leesburg, is the author of sev­eral short sto­ries who is work­ing on a book.

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