8 cut hair, others design shirt in support of AHS senior
A steady flow of beeps, tweets and posts delivered Friday is but a blip of the community support being shown the Kelley family of Andalusia as 17-year-old Megan battles a rare form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma.
There also have been calls, gifts and meals, and even that was followed by acts of kindness that continually leave the family speechless.
On Friday, the rising AHS senior was found relaxing in the family home – an understandable pastime when one hears how the teen’s life changed forever in the last two months.
“It’s one of those things that you just deal with, and I am,” Megan said of the cancer.
It started with slight back pain in May. Her mom, Donna, thought it was from an injury her daughter suffered at an amusement park. When the pain wouldn’t go away, local pediatrician Dr. Charles Eldridge sent the family to a thoracic surgeon, who found the tumor near Megan’s spine. When Megan arrived in Birmingham for a CT scan, the pain was so severe she couldn’t walk, and her family knew something was wrong.
“That’s when it all changed,” Donna said.
The CT revealed fluid around Megan’s lungs, and it was a chest tube and 10 days later before the family had their diagnosis.
After a second trip to the hospital, Megan underwent five days straight of 24-hour chemotherapy.
And when she arrived home, the well wishes started coming. First, they were from family and friends who make sure, even now, the family is fed each night. Then, they were from the family’s church family at Bethany Baptist and an anonymous angel who is paying for a wig for Megan.
It was that wig that sparked the first big wave of community support.
“They told us that Megan was going to lose her hair because of the chemo,” Donna said. “Some ladies at church told us that they knew of a company overseas that would make her a wig of her own hair, so we went to get Megan’s hair cut. They told us they needed 13-inches of her hair and some from another person.”
Megan got her hair cut by Wynette Mitchell at Sportscuts in Andalusia, only to be rushed to the hospital Monday from infection complications.
What the family didn’t count on was surprise support from eight of Megan’s closest friends – Natalie Mathews, Jodie Watson, Ander Helms, Shelby Golden, Edie Alexander, Hannah Burnette, Kaylie Kuhn and Caitlin Carpenter – who were ready to do their part to help in their friend’s recovery. The girls also had their hair cut and donated it for Megan’s wig.
Then came the T-shirts, designed by AHS students Darius Davis and Kennedy Thompson, which are now on sale to help the family with medical and travel costs.
“It’s just so overwhelming to know that so many people care about us,” Megan said. “It’s humbling.”
Megan will have to miss the fall semester of her senior year as she undergoes chemotherapy, but the family will cope, they said.
“I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it is to have friends like this and to live in a community where people care so much about their neighbors,” Donna said. “It’s so emotional.”
To purchase a $15 T-shirt benefiting the Kelley family, visit The Sports Shoppe on U.S. Hwy. 29 North in Andalusia.