Kelly knows that every cloud has a silver lining better than most. While many would see being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness as a major roadblock, Kelly sees it as a blessing in disguise, helping guide her to her future as a registered nurse.
“Getting sick actually guided my life,” Kelly said. “It guided me to my true passion of helping others.”
In 2008, at the age of 14, Kelly was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare and serious condition that occurs when the body stops producing enough new blood cells. Kelly commuted from her hometown of O’Fallon to St. Louis in order for chemotherapy treatments at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital
. She had to remain home-bound for her entire freshman year of high school as she recovered, a nerve-wracking experience for a growing teenager.
“I was terrified on missing out on being a teenager,” Kelly said. “My sister was a senior in high school then, and I wanted to go to school with her. I wanted to play volleyball. I felt like I couldn’t do anything.”
Kelly says her family was her biggest source of strength and inspiration during her treatments, especially her older sister Danielle. In 2010, when Make-A-Wish asked Kelly what her wish was, she wanted to show her appreciation to her family by combining their love for cruises with Kelly’s desire to visit the Mediterranean.
“My whole family was keeping me going,” she said. “They had to deal with [my illness] too.”
Kelly and her family had such a blast on their Mediterranean cruise, seeing all the different countries and marveling at the beauty. One of her favorite places they visited was Krka National Park in Croatia, because of all the stunning waterfalls everywhere. She also loved going to the Greek islands and marveling at the blueness of the water and the beauty of the Cycladic architecture the islands are known for.
Now 22, Kelly is about to graduate from nursing school and has been hired as an emergency room nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis
. When she was a child Kelly didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up, but getting sick and seeing the nurses who treated her go above and beyond inspired her to become a nurse.
“I want to be someone who will make a change in other people’s lives.”