Powell River community steps up to support young cancer survivor

Kendra McLeod currently awaits a lung transplant in Vancouver

As Kendra McLeod awaits a lung transplant, members of the Powell River community are rallying around her and her family, to fundraise and offer support in any way they can.

In 2017, Kendra came down with what seemed like a bad case of the flu she just could not seem to shake, according to her mother, Bonnie McLeod. Her normally energetic daughter had symptoms of sore throat, fever and a need to sleep all the time.

As symptoms progressed and became worse, a series of doctors’ visits dismissed it as being anything more serious. However, on April 3, 2017, the family learned Kendra had acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer that starts in the bone marrow. She began an intense course of chemotherapy and had a bone marrow transplant that August followed by several weeks in isolation due to her compromised immune system.

“After her transplant, she developed a persistent cough and an unusual rash on her entire body,” said Bonnie.  

Doctors determined it was caused by graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) a life-threatening complication where cells from the donor attack a patient’s tissues. 

“In Kendra’s case, it caused the most severe form of GvHD and attacked her lungs; this is called bronchiolitis obliterans,” said Bonnie. 

Also known as popcorn lung, it caused shortness of breath, chest pains and oxygen shortage. 

“She underwent surgery just after Christmas and is currently on medication to treat her GvHD, as well as being on oxygen 24/7,” added Bonnie. 

With many other serious complications brought on by the numerous medications and treatments, Kendra is currently at BC Children’s Hospital, during which time the family is doing some research with its various medical teams, “to decide on a hospital that’s going to suit all her needs, as well as the family’s, and decide where we will be getting a lung transplant done for Kendra,” said Bonnie. 

Community members are organizing events to help. On October 11 and 12, the Western Canadian Goju Ryu Karate Championships take place at Brooks Secondary School with athletes from across Canada and the US in attendance. Sponsored by City Transfer, all proceeds will go toward Kendra with City Transfer matching what is raised. For more information about this event, contact Canadian Martial Arts Academy Powell River at 604.485.8255.

This Friday, September 20, a bake sale is taking place at First Credit Union, 4721 Joyce Avenue, from 10 am until sold out with all proceeds to support Kendra’s family. Donations of baked goods are welcome and appreciated. The bake sale is being organized by Joleen Dew, who met Kendra and her family when her son Anakin Fretts, now 17, was in BC Children’s Hospital after a serious car accident. 

“When Anakin was in hospital, we had so much support from the community,” said Dew. “We understand how important it is.”

For more information on how to contribute, call or text Dew at 604.485.2012.

 
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