Kennedy Cobble is excited. At 21 years old, she’s preparing for her first year of college. She’s starting a bit later than most freshmen, but she’s had a few detours along the way. In Kennedy’s case, they were life threatening detours.
When she was 14 years old, Kennedy complained of back pain. She started losing weight. After countless trips to the doctor, an MRI revealed Kennedy had a mass on her spine. It was osteosarcoma , bone cancer, on her sacrum, or tailbone. Her treatment–chemotherapy, then surgery to remove the tumor-a very risky surgery that might result in Kennedy never walking again. Even worse, the operation would take 25 hours, and doctors said Kennedy might not survive it.
“What choice does a parent have?” asked Kennedy’s mom, Kathy. “We must look in the mirror every day and say we did all we could. You tell them you love them and hug them, possibly for the last time, and you send them off, relying on your faith and your support system.”
The surgery was performed at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. It was frightening, but Kennedy made it through. She couldn’t stand for six months, but she stayed strong and kept trying, and after extensive rehabilitation, she began to use a walker. Her chemotherapy and radiation continued for seven weeks, but in the end, Kennedy and her family celebrated her being cancer free.
Unfortunately, that happy freedom didn’t last long, and Kennedy and her family were about to face a long and difficult battle with much more cancer.
“Eight months later, a tumor was found in her lung, as osteosarcoma metastasizes in the lungs,” said mom, Kathy. Kathy was determined to find the best doctors in the country for Kennedy, so their next stop was MD Anderson in Houston.
“Within eight weeks, her scans showed what they thought was a blood clot in her pulmonary artery. It turned out to be a tumor, ” Kathy continued. After Kennedy’s lung was removed, more cancer was found in her leg. That made three relapses after her initial diagnosis of osteosarcoma.
But Kennedy and her mom would not give up. She had her knee, tibia and femur removed and reconstructed. The surgery was successful.
Life will never be easy for Kennedy. The surgeries have resulted in life long complications. Walking is difficult, the loss of a lung means it’s harder to breath. Happily though, this is a story of survival. Kennedy has now been cancer free for four years. She amazes her doctors.
“Kennedy has had her share of miracles and has been blessed beyond our wildest dreams,” said Kathy. “One doctor told me Kennedy inspires him and makes him want to help other children. She is a sign of hope. We celebrate her survival every day.”
As Kennedy prepares to start college, her mom wants to pass along the invaluable lessons she has learned during their battle against pediatric cancer.
“My message is research, and find the best doctors and treatment.” Kathy said the doctors she found for Kennedy throughout the country “…do not have a job, they have a calling.” Kathy is convinced that going the extra mile, literally in this case, saved her daughter’s life, and gave her a lifetime.
“She will get to experience life as it is meant to be lived by a 21-year-old,” said Kathy. Kennedy plans to study elementary education and someday share her love of children and art as well as her compassion and hope.
“She has so much to offer,” said Kathy. “Kennedy is my hero.”