In her new cW column, television host Whitney Reynolds spotlights an uplifting story from a notable person in the cancer community.
Hi! I’m Whitney Reynolds, host of “The Whitney Reynolds Show.” Our show is on a mission to create positive change. I believe there is hope in the struggle and inspiration can be found in the valley. I’m a huge fan of the comeback. Our show’s motto is: “Your Story Matters.” And now, we’ve taken our mission to print, right here in the pages of cW.
Meet Sadie Keller, a 13 year old from Texas who I had the honor of interviewing on my show this season. Her cancer journey is bold, brave and reminds us all that you can move mountains at any age.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE’S JOURNEY?
When I was seven, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I was a normal kid who played soccer and did things any other normal kid did until I started getting sick. I went from being a normal kid to getting chemo every week and being in this new world of cancer. It was very scary. My experience made me realize that so many other kids are going through the same thing, and that made me want to do something for them. I finished chemo in May of 2017 and have been healthy ever since. I am 13 years old and want to fight for childhood cancer and all the kids like me. I created a foundation, the Sadie Keller Foundation, and just published my first book, “Better Angels.”
WHAT WERE THE EMOTIONS YOU FELT WHEN YOU HEARD THE WORD “CANCER”?
When I first heard the word ”cancer,” I was terrified. I thought that you got
cancer and died like in the movies and I didn’t know what to expect at all which made it even scarier. I didn’t know what would happen to me or my body or what chemotherapy and medicines I would get and whether those
would make me sick.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR PARENTS WHO HAVE A CHILD WITH CANCER?
My advice would be to stay strong and, as hard as it is, to stay positive. I know that is not easy to do, and my parents know how hard it is, but it helps a lot and it is so important for your mental health when going through a hard time. Not only stay strong for yourself but stay strong for your child. Them seeing you scared can make them even more scared. The whole family has to get through it together. They all have to be there for one another in the hard times and not.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR A FAMILY DEALING WITH CHILDHOOD CANCER?
Be there for them. Even just checking in every once in a while. Text them and make sure everything is OK because they may need someone to talk to in that hard time. So be there for them as much as you can and let them know that you are always there.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU THE MOST ON YOUR WORST DAYS?
Something that I did throughout my treatment was make treats for my nurses and doctor. I would make cookies or cupcakes and it would take my mind off of everything and make me look forward to going to treatment every week. I would always come home from the hospital and say, “What are we going to make next?” Also, seeing the nurses smile when I gave them the treats would always make me smile and feel so good inside. I would actually look forward to going to chemo each week so that I could pass out my treats. By making others happy, it in turn makes you happy.
WHEN YOU WERE COPING WITH FEAR, WHAT GOT YOU THROUGH THAT FEAR?
My family helped me get through some of the toughest times. I don’t know what I would do without them. They would always talk me through things, make me laugh or just sit with me. They never failed to make me feel good. My mom never left my side, my dad would bring me my favorite foods since I wouldn’t eat the hospital food and my brother always tried to make me smile or laugh. When I was scared, they would talk me through it and be there every step of the way and that made me strong and feel strong.
WHAT IS LIFE LIKE FOR YOU NOW?
Now I am three years off treatment and am doing good. I have a foundation called the Sadie Keller Foundation and my mission with the Sadie Keller Foundation is to put a smile on as many kids’ faces [who are] fighting cancer as possible. With the Sadie Keller Foundation we have four campaigns and each of our programs is based on our personal experiences and we know how important they are and how needed they are. I lobby in Washington D.C. and have helped pass four major bills into law to increase funding and research for childhood cancer. I recently wrote a book with my friend Congressman Michael McCaul called “Better Angels” and I wanted to write “Better Angels” to let people know that no matter what you are going through, you can get through. You just have to look for the angels in your life.
For more inspiration or to view the full interview, watch The Whitney Reynolds Show on PBS stations nationally or visit whitneyreynolds.com.