Stories

On December 18, 2012, Kennedy "the Warrior" Griffith won her battle against cancer and went home to heaven. 

 

Kennedy's Courage

By Emilia Jones,  August 2011

Fourteen-year-old Kennedy Griffith hasn’t yet done the teenage stuff.

“I've never been to a school dance, and I’ve never had a boy-girl party,” said Kennedy. “Through the two years I had cancer, I hardly ever saw my friends. I wanted to have sleepovers with them, yet I was always too sick.”

When Kennedy was just 12, she was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Immediately, she had to give up soccer matches, swim meets and hanging out at the mall with her friends.

She traded the normalcy of school classrooms for hospital rooms. Often, overnight stays at the hospital turned into weeks and even months. In all, she has spent more than 300 days -- almost a complete year -- in the hospital. Cancer and chemotherapy have taken Kennedy’s hair in trade for nausea, exhaustion and near-death encounters.

An Inconceivable Loss

Cancer has robbed her of the things most kids take for granted, including her right leg. Last fall, after a relapse, she received news of the unthinkable reality of amputation.

“My oncology doctor, Eric Gratias, was kneeling beside me when I woke up,” Kennedy remembers. “I could see the sadness in his eyes. I knew something was going on. So I asked him, ‘What's wrong?’ I feared one of my friends from my clinic had died. I looked at my mother, I could tell she had been crying. Dr. Gratias looked at me and said, ‘Kennedy, I'm so sorry, but your leg has to go.’”

Kennedy remembers crying as so many thoughts flashed through her head. She wouldn’t be able to walk. People may laugh at her. This wasn’t fair.

“I began to think that my life was over,” said Kennedy. “No more soccer. No more swimming. As I began listing the things I wouldn't be able to do, a small thought appeared in my mind. I stared straight into my doctor's eyes and told him, ‘Courage is doing the thing you fear most. If it means I live, take the leg away.’”

A Brand New Day

Kennedy, who was nicknamed Kennedy the Warrior, describes the first time she saw her stump as a “bandaged ball” connected to her hip. Now, she affectionately and humorously calls her stump “Bob,” and she encourages others to do so, too.

She will soon start her freshman year at Baylor School, something she has wanted before she ever even thought about cancer. She was presented with her acceptance letter last spring by Headmaster Scott Wilson.

“I still think I may be dreaming,” Kennedy said about her acceptance to Baylor. “I had always wanted to go there to help my education. This miracle reminds me that there are still good people out there. I look forward to getting a clean slate and meeting new people.”

Now, Kennedy will represent all of Tennessee as a Children’s Miracle Network Champion. In October, she’ll go to Washington to meet President Barack Obama and then to Disney World in Orlando for a CMN event.

“I am glad I was chosen, so I could change the lives of the people who hear my story and help them with their life,” said Kennedy. “Being the Children's Miracle Network Champion is an amazing experience, and I am so thankful.”

Kennedy spends a lot of time thinking and writing about the future. After all, she has a lot to do as she dreams of becoming a writer and marine biologist.

She’s already an inspiration.

“I want to tell people not to give up just because something is hard,” said Kennedy. “I want to show them nothing is impossible.”

Inside Kennedy’s Journal ...

“Two years ago around this time, I was a normal girl … April 11, 2009, was the day that turned my world upside down. On that day I was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer in my femur. I remember thinking, ‘This wasn’t happening. It’s only a dream!’ But never the less I did have it. Cancer. I started my treatment soon after. I faced 40 horrible weeks of chemotherapy, 13 days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and a painful surgery that took out my entire femur bone. Through all those hospital visits, I learned all the nurses’ names, their husbands, kids and even who the single nurses were dating! But, through all that, I kept something a wise woman told me in mind … ‘God helps us through bad things, so we can use our experiences to help others in the future.’ … God has chosen my path, and it starts here-- with me winning the fight against cancer.”

Help kids like Kennedy by giving to Children's Hospital Foundation today.