Kaela Keller should be filling out applications for college, learning how to drive, practicing sprints with the Garaway High School Track team and looking for a fun part-time job.
Instead, the 17 year old from Dover has put many of those plans on hold as she undergoes chemotherapy to fight spine and brain tumors at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Her tumors are caused by a condition called juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma. Dr. Roger Hudgins, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Akron Children’s Hospital, performed brain surgery on Kaela in May.
She’s already had 4 other surgical procedures and she’s just beginning the fourth of 12 rounds of chemo to fight the disease, 48 weeks in total.
Despite all the time she spends at Akron Children’s Hospital, she still searches out moments where she can just be a teenager. She was delighted to be elected to the Garaway High School Homecoming Court in Sugarcreek last weekend.
A member of her local youth group, Kaela feels it’s important to find ways to help others.
When her family and friends had a T-shirt sale to help defray the Keller family’s medical expenses, it was Kaela’s decision to donate half of the proceeds to a foundation called The Kyrie Foundation, which raises money for brain cancer research. More than 120 shirts were sold and she was able to donate $600 to the foundation.
The Kyrie Foundation had a major fundraiser last month in Kansas. Since she wasn’t able to go in person, the foundation asked her to put together a short biographical video to share her pespective as a teen with brain tumors.
That’s when Kaela and her mother, Kelly, set to work with older brother Brendan to make the video.
“Brendan is a computer technology student at Kent State University’s Tuscarawas campus and he excels at these types of videos,” said Kelly. “He’s made videos before, and he definitely gave it a personal touch. We felt the project was important to help raise funds for brain cancer research and we wanted to increase awareness of this type of cancer.”
Watch the video and get a first-hand glimpse into what life is like for a teenager fighting cancer.