One girl in Central Illinois had her life completely change almost 6 weeks ago. Karlee Higgins may be your average 18 year old college student, but is living with a story that’s far from that.
Cancer.. something no one expects to get diagnosed. But, Karlee says, the diagnosis is one thing, but it’s how you treat that diagnosis that makes the world of a difference.
“I mean for me, since day one, I just don’t want to mope around about it,” Karlee says, “I just want to try and be as happy as I can every day.”
Life took a dramatic turn for Karlee Higgins on September 26, 2018.
“I was having chest problems and I would really just tighten up. I couldn’t breathe and then it was feeling like I ran a marathon from walking to my car to class.”
“And it finally came to a point where I decided to make an appointment with the doctor for a physical.” said Aaron Higgins, Karlee’s Dad.
Doctors had initially thought there was a problem in her heart or lungs. But after doing blood work, the next day they found her red blood cell count was low, and her white blood cell count was extremely high.
“I didn’t know what that meant and she told me straight out on the phone, I think she has Leukemia.” said Aaron Higgins.
Leukemia… the word no one wants to hear.
“It took me like a full week to comprehend that I was here and that I actually had cancer.” said Karlee.
Karlee’s Dad wasn’t letting up. “When we got to her room, I said this is going to remain a positive energy room. We are going to keep the spirits high.”
And that’s exactly what they’ve done.
“When you go to check in and come visit.. she’s probably one of the few people that have ever had six pages of visitors.” said Amy Ford, Karlee’s Aunt.
“I think it’s just from the support, and visitors every day and just like seeing all the love that I have around me makes it a lot easier.” said Karlee.
And with that, family and friends decided they needed to give back to St. Jude.
Family friend Donna Frye has a small business called Designs by Donna Marie, and had bracelets made that say “Team Karlee”. But, if you’re looking to buy one… some unfortunate news.
“They sold so fast. I mean, I don’t know if it was even a day. They were gone.” said Donna Frye.
Karlee’s Aunt, Amy Ford, had a similar idea. A coozie, bracelet, and window decal for Leukemia awareness. With all proceeds going to St. Jude. And if that wasn’t enough, wait until to hear what family and friends do on Thursdays.
“Every Thursday someone from our family or friends are bringing treats enough for the whole staff for the day, and I mean, it’s the least we can do for what they are doing for Karlee and the other kids on the floor.” said Amy Ford.
And while the treats may be tasty, Karlee’s Dad says it’s something else that brings him the most joy.
“I would say to any parents out there that if you are the type of parent that maybe doesn’t hug your children very much, you need to start doing that. And if you are the type of parent that does, you should do it a lot more because we all take it for granted.”
And through the love and support, Karlee is finding the will to win.
“I’m a fighter I guess. I just gotta keep fighting.”
When Karlee is cleared in Spring of 2019, her family and friends will be hosting a benefit at the American Legion Post 100 in Washington for St. Jude Midwest Affiliate, and their goal is to raise 20,000 dollars.
If you are interested in donating, you can email FightforKarlee@yahoo.com
You can also follow Karlee’s journey on her facebook page, “Fight for Karlee”.