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A Success Story - Kaitlyn Morris

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Kaitlyn Morris

Kaitlyn is attending Wesley College in Dover, Delaware, majoring in Nursing, with a goal of becoming a Registered Nurse.  Kaitlyn's experience with cancer has made her realize that her goals can be reached beyond her capabilities.  She has survived Retinoblastoma.  In her own words:

“Most people look at me and think I’m a princess. Perhaps for the first three years of my life this was mostly true. The youngest and the only girl born to my parents, I would have been the first to admit that I was spoiled. However, in the early autumn of 1993, my charmed life was forever changed. In that year, I was diagnosed with a form of cancer called retinoblastoma.

It was a typical afternoon, I was playing quietly in the living room with my dog Bam-Bam. My parents were in the kitchen and my brother was upstairs. Suddenly, the vision in my left eye was gone; everything in that eye’s view went black. I went to my parents and told them I couldn’t see. They began to panic. I still remember the redness of my father’s face and the fear in his voice when he asked, “…is it blurry or not at all?” My mother tested my eye-sight with several objects around the kitchen. Regardless of what was held in front of my face, I simply could not see it. Before I knew it, my parents were rushing me to Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Even at age 3, I could sense the fear in my parents. “Daddy, will I be okay?” He reassured me that I would be fine.

Things happened so quickly after that. We arrived at the emergency room and my life changed forever. The x-ray results showed spots that appeared to be cancer.  Immediately after this, the surgeon asked my parents which option they would like to take.  The options were death, radiation treatment, or chemotherapy.  After thinking about their options, my parents wisely chose radiation therapy.   They told the surgeon what choice they made and were then given paperwork to fill out.  Moments after the paperwork was completed, the doctors took me in for surgery.  After the surgery was completed and successful, the doctor told my parents I would have to remain in the hospital to make sure my body responded to the radiation and that it was in fact the proper choice.

A week after the surgery, I was released from the hospital and excited to see everyone I had missed. I had my left eye removed and radiation to my right to shrink the tumors.  I am totally blind in my left eye and partially blind in my right but I have never let this stop me from doing the things I want to do. I now had to view the world in a different way than everyone else.  I also had to experience some of the smaller things in life in a different manner - such as sitting down because my depth perception was not that of someone with two working eyes. 

 In spite of this, I have been on the cheerleading team for about 8 years and have served in several positions.  I volunteer in many activities through school and cheer to support the community.  I have volunteered with Coastal Clean-up Days; with a community project for downtown Dover that was drawing a mural for a low income area; worked with autistic children, and worked at Dover Downs for the last 3 years to help raise money for their athletic program.

Now that I reflect on this ordeal, I have noticed a change in myself. The experience has changed me by making me more courageous and more appreciative of life and health.  I try to never treat others with differences or disabilities any differently than I would treat someone else because they are human just like the next person.  I believe I have a stronger title then many of the people that I know by being a cancer survivor and I know that could never change.  Being in and out of the hospital and doctors' offices for the past 14 years has set me on the path to wanting to help others with disabilities and challenges and to give them hope that if you set your mind on something -- nothing, not even a disability, can stop you.

I may have to do things differently then others but I always manage to accomplish what I set my mind on.  I will actually be the first one in my family to go to college.  Thank you Cancer Survivors' Fund for helping me realize my goals of becoming a Registered Nurse, so I can give the proper care and hope to others going through difficult medical situations.”

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