Kimberly, Cancer and Another Reason to Get Your Flu Shot
Dec 06, 2012
One of the most endearing things my seven-year-old says is “this just happened in real life”.
This is my “real life” story today.
I wake up to help get a houseful of kids ready for school. I make breakfasts. Pack lunches. I even manage to throw in a few reminders as we quickly shuffle around the kitchen.
“Remember, you’ve got soccer practice after school today.”
“Don’t forget to take the gifts in for the community holiday cheer project”.
“We’re going to pick up a birthday present for Kimberly tomorrow, so you need to think about what you want to get her”.
My 12-year-old daughter responds tentatively, “Oh, okay.”
Here in lies the problem. What do we get Kimberly?
Kimberly is my daughter’s friend and classmate. She is suffering with a rare form of cancer, of which she is one of only 30 known cases in the U.S. In the past year this young, courageous girl has endured what seems like endless rounds of chemo, radiation and other invasive medical procedures. The cancer affects her spine and brain, limiting her mobility to the point where she is now restricted to a wheelchair. Saturday is Kimberly’s 13th birthday and the school (that she rarely gets to attend) is throwing her a surprise party to celebrate.
But what do you get a child who knows that the greatest gift we could receive can’t be bought at the store?
Flash forward about an hour or so. The kids are off to school and I sit down at my computer. I jump on Facebook and immediately gasp when I see this post from a friend of mine in Alabama.
“There are so many cases of the flu at my son’s school, they’re canceling it for the next 2 days. Boo hoo!”
My first thought…what about kids like Kimberly?
People like Kimberly – who are already fighting for their lives – should not have to worry about getting sick with the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some people are more likely to get flu complications that result in being hospitalized and occasionally result in death. This includes children under the age of 5, adults over the age of 65, pregnant women, as well as American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Additionally, there are lots of people with chronic health problems who are also at risk of flu complications, including people with asthma, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and cancer to name a few.
It’s not only recommended that those at high risk of flu complications should get the flu shot, it is also suggested that those who come into close contact with those people should also be vaccinated. And basically that means almost everybody.
Although my daughter will most likely give Kimberly a trendy One Direction t-shirt that the girls will all shriek over, I’ve decided that my gift is going to be a bit more unusual and unexpected. I’m going to ask the 2,700+ members of the Fighting for Kimberly Facebook page to make sure they get their flu vaccine.
After everything Kimberly has been through, it’s the least each of us can do. One little shot for us will help ensure that Kimberly has a better shot at keeping up her fight against cancer. That, my friends, is a gift that is truly priceless!
If you have a chronic health condition, like one of those listed above, go to the FLU.gov website to find out the special steps you should take to protect yourself during flu season.
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