Joe Kennedy: Faith is a blessing amid cancer fight - The Buffalo News

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Joe Kennedy: Faith is a blessing amid cancer fight

Two years ago, I wrote an article about my 8-year-old granddaughter Kayla, who had just been diagnosed with leukemia. We were devastated. Well, thank God, she recently celebrated her 11th birthday.

On May 18, 2012, we had to make a major decision. We had to choose how we would handle this matter. Was our glass half empty or was it half full? Were we cursed or were we blessed? Was it the end of the world or the beginning of something new?

Many years ago, I learned these 15 simple words: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Nothing is truer than that. These 15 words and a lot of faith, love, support and courage sustained our family.

We believed, from day one, in a vision of victory. Although there were many highs and lows, there was never one single day, one moment, that we felt defeated, no matter how sick little Kayla got. I always refer to this as blind faith. This is where it gets tough, especially for the doubter. As silly as this may sound, faith does take faith. We believed that God had already put in place every doctor, nurse and drug that Kayla would need.

We learned that we don’t second-guess what’s in store for our lives; we just surrender. Our plan isn’t always his plan. We believe that his plans are always for our good, even though many times we will not see it that way. We also know that God can turn any tragedy into triumph. Each day I would thank God for what I already had, which was Kayla. Then I trusted him for what she needed, which was restoring her back to health.

A lot of this may sound strange to a non-believer, but without faith during these times our family would have been lost. We believe it changed every member of our family for the better. Every kiss was a little sweeter, every hug a little longer. We learned to filter our thought process. We now think about what we will say, and how we’re going to say it, instead of just saying it. We make positive choices. Tomorrow may be so much different than today is, so savor it.

We now realize what’s important in life. We learned to have an attitude of gratitude. Fear disappears when you are grateful. We learned to stand firm in our convictions. We expected a positive outcome. Today we praise God for victory, focusing on a positive, long future for Kayla.

Kayla’s targeted date for ending her 27-month treatment is August. We are all excited about this. We cannot thank enough the magnificent doctors, nurses and all the people associated with Roswell Park. And any family who has had someone suffer with pediatric cancer knows how valuable institutions like Carly’s Club and Camp Good Days are. It seems like when the family is at its lowest, Carly’s Club is there with tickets to a concert, a Bills game or another function that the whole family can attend. Kayla is looking forward to attending Camp Good Days again this year. Last summer she had so much fun she forgot to call her Mom. What does that tell you?

Last, but not least, is the Ride for Roswell. Kayla rode this year and was excited to do so. Team Kayla raised almost $4,000 for Roswell Park with only nine riders. Kayla alone raised $1,300, pretty incredible, making her a member of the Extra Mile Club.

Life isn’t always easy. But we knew no matter how big our problem was, God was bigger.

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