On February 16 after a seven day hospital stay, kindergartener Kendall Hammell and her family finally found out their opponent in their upcoming fight. Kendall had been doctoring on and off for a fever for about a month. Her doctor had decided to keep her hospitalized until he could get to the root of her problem.
A PET scan showed abnormalities in her bone marrow. At first, an autoimmune disease was suspected, but a follow up bone marrow biopsy confirmed that the opponent was acute lymphoblastic leukemia B cell. For the past 42 days, the Hammells have been actively fighting Kendall’s leukemia.
A port was put in to do Kendall’s labs without the constant use of needles. Kendall was originally put on a standard risk treatment plan; after 29 days she was checked and then moved up to a high risk treatment plan. According to her dad, Lucas, the high risk treatment is much more intense.
Just this past week, Kendall underwent her first blood transfusion. Her doctors at Mayo were surprised that she had gotten this far without one.
Kendall has undergone “tons of procedures” according to her mom, Mel. Every Friday, she has a lumbar puncture to check her cerebral spinal fluid. Her chemo is injected directly into her cerebral spinal fluid and then is taken throughout her body. Kendall has a gene that puts her at an increased risk of a relapse; any cancer showing up with the lumbar puncture would be considered a relapse. Kendall takes oral chemo as well.
In addition to the leukemia, Kendall has a cyst in her brain which will need to be removed at some point. Since surgery will not be able to totally remove the cyst, it will regrow and need additional future surgery as well. For now, her doctors are waiting as long as possible to do the surgery.
Last week, Kendall and her parents stayed at the hospital the Friday night before her chemo. Lucas and Mel got trained on giving Kendall her chemo through her port. WIth her parents able to administer the chemo on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, Kendall and her family will be able to stay home more.
What kind of a girl is stepping up for the fight? Kendall’s older seven-year-old sister Kenzie was quick to share just how fabulous her sister was! According to Kenzie, “She’s loving, kind, caring, playful, happy, brave, and strong — a wonderful friend!” Mom Mel and Dad Lucas concurred, agreeing with all the descriptors.
The Hammells have been overwhelmed by all the community support, noting they don’t get time to thank everybody individually. They appreciate all the support they have received and want everyone to know that!
Both Mel, an assistant Fillmore County attorney, and Lucas, who works road construction with Griffin Construction, are continuing to work as much as possible while taking Kendall to her numerous appointments at the clinic. Fridays are a big day for appointments; Mel, Lucas, and Kendall spend most of the day at the clinic while Kenzie goes to school and three-year-old Kennedy goes to daycare.
Their wonderful friends and family have helped them immensely. Lucas’s parents, Bernie and June live just three minutes away; Mel’s parents, Bill and Diane Wassink, live just 12 minutes from them. Their parents help them with everything, according to Mel.
Gina Jaquith, Lucas’s first cousin and Mel’s best friend forever, lives just a mile up the road from the Hammells and is a great help for them as well. Mel commented, “Gina fields a lot of stuff for us!”
Bayli Henderson, Kendall’s wonderful kindergarten teacher, ordered t-shirts from Thread’s Custom Apparel in Chatfield and did a T-shirt fundraiser drive for Kendall. The T-shirts proclaim, “Sometimes Real Superheroes Live in the Hearts of Small Children Fighting Big Battles.”
On April 1, a three-on-three basketball tournament was held to raise funds for Kendall. The Hammell family made some shirts to symbolize their support of Kendall. The shirts encourage people to “Fight like a Hammell girl”; the shirts can be purchased from Big Girl Stickers and Stems in Chatfield through the end of April or by using the website: https://www.biggirlstickers.com/product-category/apparel/kendall-hammell-benefit/
In addition, carnival games benefiting Kendall were sponsored by the Chatfield Commercial Club at their Easter Bunny Visit Grab and Go.
A benefit bank account has been set up at Root River State Bank in Chatfield in Kendall’s name. Other fundraising events are in the works as the community seeks to support Kendall in her fight.
To follow and support Kendall and her family in their battle against her leukemia, you can go to her Caring Bridge website at: https://www.caringbridge.org/.visit/kendallhammell.
The kindergartners at Chatfield and their teachers wearing their t-shirts in support of Kendall. Kendall’s teacher, Bayli Henderson is in the back row far left. Kendall is directly in front of her.