Cancer battles taught PHS student a lot

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kennedy Cleghorn has survived two cancer diagnoses. |                                            Josh Dutton/Star-News

Kennedy Cleghorn has survived two cancer diagnoses. | Josh Dutton/Star-News

In the two years since her two cancer diagnoses, Pleasant Home sophomore Kennedy Cleghorn has learned a lot about herself.

But talking about it was difficult, she said.

Diganosed with ovarian cancer in July of 2013, Cleghorn went through surgery and chemo and finished her treatments by Christmas of that year.

But in the last week of January 2014, she began having pain in her abdomen again. Scans revealed the family’s worst fears.

This time, rather than ovarian cancer, Cleghorn was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma.

Today, Cleghorn is cancer free and has returned to school after completing her freshman year, and the majority of her sophomore year, from home. The school system provided a teacher to work with her during her illness.

Isolation was one of the more difficult parts of having cancer, she said.

About nine to 10 days after each treatment, she’d have to be in isolation for one to two days.

“I had to wear masks everywhere, too,” she said. “I felt like a dog with a muzzle.”

Cleghorn said when she got her diagnoses, her whole world crashed down.

“You feel isolated and alone,” she said. “But the community’s support means the world to me. There was always someone saying they were thinking about me, praying for me and encouraging me. We had a lot of supporters.”

But what really carried Cleghorn through her journey was her faith in God.

“You have to put your trust, faith and hope in God,” she said. “There is only one way, in my perspective, to pull through and that is having faith in yourself, but mostly having faith in God that he will pull you through.”

Cleghorn said she feels like she’s a different person.

“I’m still trying to find myself,” she said. “I’m a lot stronger than I thought, for sure. The little things and fights in daily life are nothing compared to what people with cancer have to go through.”

Cleghorn, who recently returned to school, said she’s excited about getting back into the world and teenage life.

It’s been an adjustment, though, she said.

“With how long I was out, I forgot how to do the stuff before cancer,” she said. “Sometimes the crowds overwhelm me.”

Cleghorn will attend this Friday’s Relay for Life event.

Mom, Emily, said Relay for Life is vital in this community because cancer is a growing issue.

“It’s not just in adults, and it’s not just in kids,” she said. “We need to bring awareness.”