A 13-year old rappelling down a 26-storey building might be enough to give anyone chills.
But now consider this; eight grader Kelsey Clark of Wyoming is planning the amazing feat even thought two years ago doctors thought she might never walk again.
The Holy Rosary student was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called Adamentinoma. It’s a type of bone cancer which affects just 0.5 per cent of Canadians – usually men. The spongy tumour basically eats away at the bone. And it doesn’t respond at all to the conventional treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.
Kelsey first noticed a bump on her leg in 2012. Two weeks later it was larger and was “extra sore” according to her mom, Brenda.
She went to the emergency room at Charlotte Eleanor Engelhart Hospital because she couldn’t get an appointment with her family doctor. They found one large tumour along her leg bone and told the family if she were to turn her leg wrong, it would have shattered. “They thought they were going to have to amputate it.”
The family took Kelsey first to London and then to Toronto where doctors in a 15 hour operation removed the bone with a tumour and put the fibula from her other leg in its place.
“Kelsey spent one months at Sick Kids (in Toronto)…and a year in wheelchair…They didn’t think she would walk again. If she did it would be steps here and there,” says Brenda. “She’s succeeded way beyond that.”
Kelsey is back in school and can be outside playing with her classmates – although she does have to be a bit careful.
During the long difficult journey through cancer, there was one bright spot – a trip the Clarks were able to take to Disney World through the Make A Wish Foundation. “It was great for the family,” she says.
The family was apart for months as Kelsey was in treatment and her two siblings were frightened to her Kelsey’s cries of pain during her long recovery.
“The trip takes you away from cancer for a little while, no hospital, no doctors, it’s just you and the family.”
Brenda says Kelsey had been around other children with cancer at a camp during the summer – some of those she lost. “She was so excited (to be at Disney World)…just to be able to be – not to see all that around us. She was happy.”
One of the reasons Kelsey chose Disney World was for the rides. “She always wanted to go on a roller coaster and to go Disney…she’s always been our dare devil.”
So when Kelsey saw Make A Wish’s fundraiser called Rope for Hope – that dare devil inside kicked in again. The teen decided to raise $1,500 for the Make A Wish Foundation – enough to send another child with cancer on the trip she loved so much. She will raise that money by rappelling down a 26 storey building in London on June 19.
Kelsey – who is a novice rappelling – recently went to London to practice at an indoor facility. She’s also lifting weights to keep her arms strong for the 300-meter descent.
And she’s been fundraising like crazy. She’s nearly doubled her goal of $1,500 and hopes to hit $3,000 so two children will have the Make A Wish experience.
“I have cancer but I want to show other kids that they can still do what other people can do.”
Kelsey’s mom and dad are just as excited as she is. Her dad, she says, keeps making jokes on Facebook like “don’t look down, you’d better not fall.”
Brenda says she “didn’t hesitate at all” when Kelsey said she wanted to join the event. “I knew it was something she would love to do and that she would have no fear. To have that come from her, for her to give back and have another family experiences….is very exciting. When I think about it, I still have tears.
“You never know when you’re going to get to this point…to get this far and give to another family a hand – that’s huge.
“When you don’t think she’s going to walk again but you see her walk and run again maybe with a limp… we’re just proud and excited.”
To learn more about Kelsey’s rappelling adventure you can go to www.ropeforhope.ca.