Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 7, 2013


PHS freshman facing semester of treatments

Well, maybe it’s a pulled muscle, the parents of the Pleasant Home freshman Kennedy Cleghorn thought when their daughter began complaining of severe pain on her right side.

It wasn’t, the family soon learned.

What the scans revealed was a 9-pound, volleyball-sized tumor in her abdomen. And now, the Cleghorn family – with the help of an area retail franchise – is beginning the healing process.

“Kennedy has always been very active,” Cleghorn said. “She’d been playing ball in May and then travel ball. We thought it was a pulled muscle, but upon examination, doctors found a nodule on her thyroid.”

Cleghorn said when they got the news the first thing she did was call her mom.

“She’s an ultrasound tech, and she did a quick scan and found other nodules on (Kennedy’s) thyroid,” she said. “We called the doctor back and told them about the pain in her side, and they ordered a cat scan on her neck and her abdomen.”

Those results showed multiple nodules on Kennedy’s thyroid and a large mass in her right side. From there, the family was sent to the University of Alabama at Birmingham hospital, where doctors found the tumor was attached to the teen’s right ovary. She was sent into surgery the next day.

“There was no way to look at her and tell she had a tumor that size,” Cleghorn said. “Pathology reports showed some differentiated cells and doctors had concerns about residual cancer cells. She stayed at UAB for a week after surgery and then was referred to an oncologist at UAB Children’s for chemotherapy.”

Cleghorn said the oncologist believes that the nodules and the tumor are related and is also working with an endocrinologist on Kennedy’s case.

“He also believes that she may be a carrier of a gene that puts her in a higher risk category for cancer and is testing for that,” she said. “Right now, her doctor says Kennedy will go through about four rounds of chemotherapy. She will receive infusions five days in a row and return home for a few weeks and go again for the next round. She can do this as an outpatient as long as blood counts and everything else looks good.”

Luckily, the oncologist is allowing Kennedy to receive her treatments at the Nemours Clinic with Children’s Hospital in Pensacola “since UAB is a long drive with a sick child.”

“How long it lasts really depends on how Kennedy responds to the chemo,” Cleghorn said. Kennedy’s treatments are expected to begin Monday, she said.

The family is traveling to Birmingham today to receive the port for infusions, her mother said. Unfortunately, Kennedy will be homebound for the first semester of school and will receive instruction in home from a teacher, Cleghorn said. In fact, Thursday was Kennedy’s last day of school at PHS.

Still the family is thankful the options are available. They’re also thankful for the outpouring of community support as they deal with Kennedy’s treatment.

To help the family with medical and transportation costs, staff at Maurices will host their second annual womanless fashion show with all the proceeds benefiting the Cleghorn family.

Kristy Caraway, Enterprise Maurices manager and Florala resident, said the event is tentatively set for Oct. 19 at PHS and will be held in conjunction with a PHS teacher-sponsored 5K benefit.

A similar event was held to benefit Kaleb Jones, the son of former Florala head football coach Justin Jones.

“What we’re doing right now is trying to spread the word,” Caraway said. “I’m thrilled to say that Andalusia Maurices’ manager Joann Pierce Grimes is on board to make this a wonderful event.

“We are accepting donations now for the silent auction and looking for both male and female models for the event,” she said. “And if businesses wanted to donate for silent auction, we’ll be accepting those, and cash donations will be taken in the store in Andalusia and Enterprise.”

Caraway said a bake sale will be held this weekend at both stores, with proceeds going to the family.

Those interested in modeling in the fashion show – both male and females are needed – should call Caraway at 334-347-2801.

“We’d love to see a lot of PHS students and faculty participate, because it means more when it’s people you know,” she said.

A time for the fashion show event will be announced at a later date when plans for the 5K are finalized, Caraway said.