By Kortney Scroger
Kadence Rodney is one tough four year old — something she confirms after every poke or procedure by telling her father, Jerome, “I was brave, Daddy.”
If you meet this friendly, smart and energetic girl, you’d likely be surprised to learn that her journey hasn’t been an easy one.
In fact, Kadence and her family first came to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital when she was just a few weeks old.
“Savy [Kadence’s mom] had just put her to sleep and soon realized that she was turning purple,” Jerome says. “She had stopped breathing.”
Kadence was rushed to the Mary Bridge Children’s Emergency Department and was admitted for whooping cough.
At that time, Mary Bridge Children’s had recently gone through a renovation, funded with the help of donors, to provide each patient room with a pull-out sofa and a private bathroom. This allowed all members of the family to be by Kadence’s side for six weeks as she recovered.
“Being able to remain with Kadence made a huge difference in her care, because we were able to identify immediately if there were any changes,” Savy says. “We were right there to help her get through that versus her just being here by herself. I believe having us there allowed her to recover faster.”
Less than three years later, the Rodney family came to Mary Bridge Children’s Emergency Department again, this time for Kadence’s extreme stomach pain and chronic exhaustion.
“I went to pick her up at daycare, and normally she’s very playful,” Jerome explains. “But she was just sitting there, just observing, wouldn’t move. Wouldn’t do anything. She’d come home, and she would sleep for four hours straight. Just come home and knock out, right away.”
That day, the family received news that they hadn’t been expecting; Kadence, had Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
“That initial diagnosis took us down a tunnel that we weren’t prepared for,” Savy says. “I remember the doctors sitting with us and getting us through that initial diagnosis. And then walking us through the next steps and helping us, mentally prepare us, prior to us getting transferred over to the unit.”
Every patient in Kadence’s situation is visited by a social worker who provides them with a list of support services. Many of these services, like Tree House: A Place For Families, are supported by community donations.
Kadence was hospitalized for 17 days following her diagnosis — a significant interruption to her life and to everyone in her family, including her sisters. Tree House helped them all stay together and provide Kadence with some normalcy as her world was changing, with no extra cost to the family.
“Just having the sisters together to continue as if nothing is going on, except for the PICC in Kadence’s arm, was huge,” Jerome says. “I am very thankful for the donations to Tree House. The impact it had on our family extends well beyond just a room to stay in. Being able to have our daughters together, to have a playmate for Kadence during the day. It put our minds at ease, which is more than money can buy.”
Child Life Services was also available to help Kadence, her sisters and even her parents through this tough time.
“There was one time where I had already finished a book, and I just needed something else to engage and enrich my mind other than what was going to be happening with Kadence,” Savy explains. “And Child Life actually brought me a make-your-own blanket kit. To this day, the girls use that blanket, and it just reminds me of how calming it was and how it got me through that night. I know it’s called Child Life Services, but really, they were a lifesaver for me, too. Not just my children.”
After her hospitalization, Kadence continued her treatment with steroids, a port installation and chemotherapy with regular visits to the Mary Bridge Children’s Hematology and Oncology Clinic. True to form, she even faced her hair loss with strength.
“Every day, little by little, she lost chunks of her hair until there was one piece at the top of her head,” Savy says. “She called it her unicorn — then one day, she decided it was time, and she chopped it off all by herself.”
Kadence is now in the maintenance stage of her chemotherapy treatment. While she’s had a few setbacks, her parents say that she inspires them every day and that she remains “strong, active and vibrant.” They also Mary Bridge Children’s and community support for caring for their whole family.
“It’s holistic care versus her just getting her medication and going through her plan of care,” Savy says. “It’s more to it than just that. I love that most about what we’ve encountered with Mary Bridge. They identify her needs outside of what she’s been diagnosed with and then address them, while including the siblings, the parents — the whole family.”
Your gifts to Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation support care for the whole family. Learn more and make a donation at marybridge.org/give.
About the Author
Kortney Scroger is a communication specialist for the MultiCare Foundations. She writes stories that connect readers to the impact of giving.