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.”

My daughter and her friends, Julianna & Kimberly, on Halloween.

My daughter and her friends, Julianna & Kimberly, on Halloween.

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.

DoItForKimberlyThey shouldn’t.  But they do.

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 website to find out the special steps you should take to protect yourself during flu season.

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7 responses to “Kimberly, Cancer and Another Reason to Get Your Flu Shot”

  1. Dani says:

    Reblogged this on Dragon Deliberations and commented:
    This is exactly what vaccines were designed to do, protect those with immune systems that might not have the ability to fight off this illness!

  2. everyone get your flu shots and anyone that is needed it looks like this winter is going to be a rough one upper resp. flu and more. they said the past week or two people are pouring in with the flu in doctors offices in the upper pennisula i get it every year my immune system is down from three breast surgeries may july nov. i aint in the best of health and i knew when i was pregnant with my daughter when the swine flu came out.. every year we’re all going to have one…. i want to protect my kids. my sons school has been shut down for two days because of the upper resp flus etc. to santize the whole school. parents sent their kids to school sick. and my son brought upper resp to our house and with it ended up with all ear infections… please do it for the children… these things can take childrens lifes do you want that to happen to your child.. i got it when i was pregnant. it was the best thing i ever done… it protected me and my unborn daughter and you know what she got hit with it. but she got over it and fast. she just got the runny nose cough. while it took us forever to get over it. that must say something my daughter has a amazing immune system usually upper resp. can hit 2 year olds and bad not her…. i thank god for these shots and if your kids are sick keep them home… dont send them into the schools and let them get other children sick… and if you dont get your children the flu shots and that we shouldnt have to pay for it when we get our shots. whooping cough has been going around all these things we havent seen in years because people dont want to vaccinate thank you jenny macarthy.. for saying they cause autism that she cured her kids of it. bull. my son has autism and it didnt come from shots its genetic…. just get your kids vaccinated what if something happens to them do you want to live with it the rest of your life. because you didnt get the shot…

  3. John Fryer says:

    Hi Vaccines are good but repeat vaccines every year defy the known vaccine science of Charles Richet. Anaphylaxis rather than prophylaxis.
    When I was young it was unknown almost for children to get cancer.
    Who or what has gone wrong that we have so much illness today?
    Drugs, food, water supplies, pollution but nobody seems to know what causes illnesses but miraculously claim a yearly vaccine is of no risk to even pregnant women.
    This defies even the latest research which shows no benefit from vaccines for the mother to be and for some actually proves harm.
    The rise in sudden death to the child in the womb has gone up from one a year in the USA to around 200 complaints every year and may be more or less as no one has any idea if the losses are due to the vaccine or not.
    A 50 million good vaccines in my time is now admitted at one adverse effect in a thousand for the flu vaccine. This should make people evaluate risks more carefully.
    I have to say all my friends get their annual shots but again here in France the average person gets 47 lots of medicaments every year at a cost to them of between 500 to 1 000 dollars.
    Does this keep them healthy?
    And if so why do they need all these medications each year and every year?
    This works out at a 50 billion euros windfall for vaccine and drug related companies from one country alone.
    More and more people are moving to bio foods to avoid USA imports of soya etc all GMO products.
    As to water no one now drinks tap water as it contains residues of 100 of medicalments et al.
    But this increases costs but improves health no end.

  4. Chris says:

    Mr. Fryer:

    When I was young it was unknown almost for children to get cancer.

    That is because your parents did not tell you, and you were too young to read the obituaries. I suggest you read The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, where he goes into a history of the treatment of children with cancer goes back over fifty years.

    The rise in sudden death to the child in the womb has gone up from one a year in the USA to around 200 complaints every year and may be more or less as no one has any idea if the losses are due to the vaccine or not.

    Citation needed. That means the title, journal and date of the PubMed indexed paper that has this factoid. I’m sorry, Mr. Fryer but you have a reputation of just making things up.

  5. Melody RN says:

    Kimberly is a beautiful reminder of how we all play a part in protecting the vulnerable within our community. Children like Kimberly and those under six months are at risk for suffering the severe complications of influenza that most of us have the ability to recover from. It’s especially important that parents vaccinate school age children because they are the most likely to bring home the virus. I hope that the many friends of Kimberly take note that they can all play a part in protecting her by getting their flu shot and encouraging others in their community to do the same.

  6. lilady says:

    @ John Fryer: All of your statements about childhood cancer, are just as *valid* as your statements about vaccines and autism.
    As health care providers/child advocates, getting a seasonal flu vaccine is “what we do”, so that Kimberly and other children do not get critically ill or die from influenza.

  7. […] I watched a mother lay her sweet 13-year-old child to rest. After a year-long battle with cancer, Kimberly’s fight was over and an entire community turned out to honor her at her funeral. As I sat in the pew of the […]

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