Almost a year ago today I received a Facebook message from a close friend requesting that I pray for a 19 month old baby girl named Kylie Elizabeth Rowand. Kylie had just been diagnosed with stage 4 high risk, mycn amplified, Neuroblastoma. In the close of the message was a direct link to the Prayers For Kylie Facebook page.
The featured picture of Kylie displayed a beautiful little girl with a celestial smile looking up at her mother, Bree, who stood as a pillar of strength with quintessential beauty and grace. Bree would come to be the woman who helped remind me of the true meaning of faith. Over the next 373 days, along with thousands of other followers across the globe, we witnessed the type of love you only hear about in church or see played out in the movies. A mother fighting for her child cloaked in unwavering faith, if there were moments of Bree's weakness I for one never saw them.
Daily updates to the "PFK" page allowed followers a glimpse at the journey this young family was embarking upon. On good days we as a growing community, relished in videos of Kylie playing "stinky toes" with Bree or calling out to her daddy Luke, "Da Da, Da Da" her little voice echoing in the air. On not so good days there would be post requesting continued prayer. Those days would be heart stopping as they included; the spreading of the cancer, the development of VIP (Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide) Kylie being the first child to have VIP in stage 4 Neuroblastoma, A fungal infection, surgery on her skull do to the spreading of the disease and 9 rounds of chemo. Through it all, it was Bree who encouraged us, the "Prayers For Kylie," community which had now grown to over 77,000 members. Through her faith I believed. As a mother of 3, I know somewhere in me is this divine strength this relentless fight but my logic could not comprehend her indefatigable trust in the word of God.
There was one post in particular on January 20th: " Kylie's CT came back normal! We are all so happy! The shunt they thought she would need possibly forever, is no longer needed! Thank you, Jesus! And thank you for all the prayers!" After all that Bree, Kylie and Luke had endured they remained thankful, hopeful and faithful. 3,000 miles away standing in a small kitchen in Los Angeles, I bowed my head and thanked God for them, I thanked God for Bree. No amount of church attendance could have been as impactual as this young woman was to me at this very moment. My faith fully restored, I was not anticipating the post on Feb 2nd, which read "I am not sure I will have the right words at this moment. My mind is in a fog, my stomach in knots, and my heart is broken. This week marks one year since Kylie and I got to sleep in our own beds in our own home. And in this year, we have spent every second of every minute together, ferociously fighting an incurable disease that will soon take her life. Kylie's CT scan showed that her liver is extremely large and full of disease. The cancer is starting to take over. At this point there is not much more we can do. She is in an excruciating amount of pain, it's hard for her to breath and there is no way to stop the liver from getting any bigger. We are still continuing the BRAF drug, but it's only going to buy us time. Neuroblastoma is the most aggressive of the pediatric cancers and once it's starts to take over there is no stopping it. Doctors are giving her a couple weeks if that. We are going to keep Kylie here in the hospital where we feel would be most comfortable for her and will give Luke and I the most time possible we can with her."
On Saturday February 7th, 2015 at 10:19 am Kylie Elizabeth was taken to heaven. Within moments of the announcement there were more than 2,000 shares and 10,000 comments. After reading through countless messages of peace, I realized that though Facebook is a place we go for mere amusement, this little family from San Diego was able to give us all an angel. Our girl, as Bree fondly called her, has gone to be with the Lord. Cancer may have cut her time on earth short, but it will never take her away from our hearts. So for that I say "Thank you Bree, thank you."
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