Young lady refuses to let cancer define her
CHEROKEE, Oklahoma — Kenzie Golden may look like an average high school senior, but to call her average would be to redefine and elevate the word ‘average.’
Kenzie has a 4.0 grade point average, she is a cheerleader; she plays basketball and fast pitch softball; she is also on the track team; involved in student council; and belongs to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.
Oh, and she is also a cancer survivor.
In the summer of 2015, Kenzie was hospitalized for a fever that lasted 18 days. After a battery of tests she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a type of rapidly spreading cancer that forms in the bone marrow and can be fatal in months if not treated.
“When they told us, they said a lot of things that were beyond our understanding but I kept hearing that one word [leukemia], over and over,” said Kenzie’s mother, Jennifer Golden.
After the initial shock and disbelief subsided, Kenzie, with her family beside her, began the battle for her life.
The proceeding year was filled with chemo treatments, a weakened immune system and hospital stays. Through it all Kenzie refused to let the cancer change who she is, but instead simply added ‘fight’ to her daily schedule.
Jennifer remembered, “She never slowed down, even in the hospital she stayed busy.”
“It did force me to grow up. I realized I can’t just sit around and wait for something to happen, I have to go out and get it,” Kenzie said.
Now, well into her senior year, with a resume that rivals most adults she has begun looking at colleges. She has placed her sights on the University of Oklahoma where she plans to become an athletic trainer and hopes to do her internship under Patty Gasso, OU’s head softball coach.
Kenzie, currently in remission, is now dealing with a condition resulting from a bone marrow transplant. The condition is known as graft versus host disease, where immune cells from the donor attack the recipient’s host tissues.
The condition is common after bone marrow transplants and, in some cases, can be beneficial in that along with attacking the host tissues the donor T cells will also attack any remaining cancer cells.
Kenzie is facing this latest hurdle in the same fashion she faces everything else, she moves forward refusing to slow her pace. She is taking college level courses in preparation for next year and recently received ‘All Conference’ in softball, for the third time.
In September, in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month her school surprised her before a football game when the field and stands cheered for her as the team filed out onto the field and laid golden roses at her feet.
She then spent the next two hours cheering for them.