Just a year after my initial cancer diagnosis I found myself right back there, in treatments again due to more cells being found on a scan. I was 14 and felt totally alone. I didn’t know any other kids that had cancer. The internet, social media, and even the local organization support was nowhere near what it is now.
The first time I spoke at an event right after the cancer diagnosis, I received letters from listeners that it helped them overcome their own journey, that was all I needed. I held on to that hope and those responses, and I decided to channel my energy into something positive. I knew that there was a bigger purpose and I was given this curveball of a ‘lemon’ for a reason.
In 2009, I established a non-profit organization, Kasie Helpz Kidz (KHKidz). I began helping children who were fighting cancer by providing a simple gift of emotional support and something very significant during my journey- a teddy bear. It was an item that could be with me during treatment/surgery even when my parents couldn't. I wanted to give other kids that comfort I held onto dearly. Thousands of teddy bears were provided to kids fighting cancer, throughout the entire country. Eventually, that led to pizza parties in the hospitals, which in turn evolved into fashion show events and fundraisers to provide financial assistance to the children's families for medical bills.
At the time, the cancer world became everything I knew, but now over a decade later, looking back, it was just a small fragment of my journey and the beginning of a very long road; one full of many ‘lemons.’ From adjusting to a new ‘normal’ after cancer to facing other health issues to struggling with anxiety and depression, to relationships, marriage, and a bump in the road as Brandon and I start a family. I would be lying if I said I just smiled and stayed positive through it all. I am human. I have emotions, I make lots of mistakes, and there are times that I want to just throw my hands up and give up. But through the midst of it all, on the good days, I remember the bad and celebrate how far I have come, and on the bad days, I try to remember the good and the mindset it took to get there.
I feel strongly about sharing my journey with others because if it can encourage and help just one person having a bad day, then it is all worth it. KHKidz is still active and a large part of my life and it has been such a blessing. Now enter, Laughing after Lemons. I wanted to create a platform to discuss all the realness of this journey called life. Another way to relate and touch the lives of even more people.