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Archive for Saturday, September 27, 2008

Family’s hope for baby hinges on transplant

Girl with leukemia may get bone marrow from brother

Their daughter is in a Kansas City hospital fighting for her life while Lawrence residents are pulling together in show of their support.

September 27, 2008

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Kickball tournament benefits child with leukemia

The community kicks in to help a 15-month old Lawrence girl who's battling leukemia. Enlarge video

KU graduate student Brandon Gwilliam holds his daughter McKensie at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, shortly after she was diagnosed with leukemia.

KU graduate student Brandon Gwilliam holds his daughter McKensie at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, shortly after she was diagnosed with leukemia.

McKensie Gwilliam, 15 months, plays with a stuffed animal Monday in her room at Children's Mercy Hospital, after suffering a second relapse in her battle with leukemia.

McKensie Gwilliam, 15 months, plays with a stuffed animal Monday in her room at Children's Mercy Hospital, after suffering a second relapse in her battle with leukemia.

Their daughter was diagnosed with a simple ear infection when she was just 9 months old, but less than 24 hours later, McKensie Gwilliam was admitted to the cancer floor at Children's Mercy Hospital.

"They said that she had cancer and that it was leukemia," said Brandon Gwilliam, McKensie's dad. "It's one of those things that's just unbelievable. Life was normal. We were moving right along and all of a sudden our daughter's got cancer."

Since McKensie's diagnosis in March, the family's life has been turned upside down. Brandon is enrolled full time as a graduate student at Kansas University. He's in the second year of a master's program in social work. He splits his time between attending classes and taking care of his and his wife's two other children.

His wife, Tiffany, spends many days and nights by McKensie's side at the Kansas City, Mo., hospital. The now 15-month-old little girl remains hospitalized after suffering her second relapse. Her dad said her cancer is resistant to chemotherapy and has spread to her head.

"Essentially we've been given the option by the doctors that it wouldn't be unreasonable to stop going forward with treatment," Brandon said.

McKensie's best hope is a bone marrow transplant, and one of her two brothers is a perfect match. She just needs to get healthy enough to undergo the process.

For now, the family from Utah is relying on their faith and the overwhelming support they've received from the Lawrence community.

One of Brandon's classmates in KU's School of Social Welfare has organized a kickball tournament today, with proceeds benefiting the Gwilliam family.

"I've watched him go through this since March. He's been incredibly strong," organizer Rena Reynolds said. "I've never done anything like this. I just thought somebody has to do something."

Reynolds said the tournament has so far raised more than $1,500 for McKensie.

"It leaves us speechless," Brandon said. "A lot of times we'd find ourselves crying for McKensie's situation and then crying because of the love and support that people were giving us at the same time. That's just how it's been all along the way, with so much love and support from people in the Lawrence community and beyond."

Comments

liz_schreiner 6 years, 2 months ago

Hello Brandon and Tiffany and Family,We just wanted to let you and your family know we are thinking of all of you. It was good to see the pictures of your family. Never give up hope, and we'll be praying for you! to keep your strength!The Schreiner Family(Jared's family from Children's-Mercy)

vhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

The generosity and outpour of support we received still overwhelms me today. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/jun...

Rena_Reynolds 6 years, 2 months ago

I want to thank everyone who came out today for Kickin it for McKensie! I am speechless! Please remember to eat at Old Chicago on October 6th, 10% of your bill will go to the Gwilliam family! Also, a fund for The Benefit of McKensie Gwilliam is set up at Sunflower Bank! Thank you!

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 2 months ago

"It leaves us speechless," Brandon said. "A lot of times we'd find ourselves crying for McKensie's situation and then crying because of the love and support that people were giving us at the same time." SometimesI haveno words.

vhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

You're in good hands a Children's Mercy, my little sister did her chemotherapy there. There will be times when you feel like you have been beat, but always stay strong and optimistic. My prayers are with you and your family.

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