Below I have included the letter Kendall wrote to me when asked to tell me more about how she felt or plainly what was her story in her own words.
""When I was a child, I thought life was an incredible journey that I could not wait to explore. I had what is considered a “normal” childhood. My biological father was never present in my life because of his addiction to alcohol. About the age of seven, my mother married and I thought life could not get any better. I was going to have a father for the first time in my life; something that I longed for. I was completely wrong. That marriage was the demise of ever again allowing myself to be dependent on others. If I had to choose one word to describe myself it would be without a doubt, independent. This is where my story begins.
The majority of my life has only been my mother and I. She is the only person who has been by my side through thick and thin. As a young girl, my mother emphasized two things; go to college and never be dependent on others. From that point, I knew I had to be independent. At first, I didn’t understand why, but shortly after I learn that if you depend on people they will more than likely let you down. In my opinion, that is one of the worst pains someone can feel – vulnerability.
After the divorce, it was truly just my mother and I again. I was content with this. It was, and is the typical “single mother trying to support her daughter on her own” story.
My sophomore year of high school, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Receiving this news absolutely killed me. I lost focus in everything – school, basketball, family and friends. Basketball has always been my passion and my outlet. However, once my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I just did not care any longer. During this time, I had an injury that forced me to sit majority of the season. That made everything that much worse. During this time, I asked for no help from anyone. I avoided family and friends, because I knew they would want to talk about my mother’s health situation, which made the situation more real. I distant myself from just about everyone in my life. My daily routine consisted of going to school – talked to no one, participated in basketball from the sideline, which made my depression more serve, came home and took care of my mother to the best of my abilities. The pain of watching the person you love most in this world suffer was extremely difficult for me to handle. However, I was too stubborn to lean on anyone. Thankfully, my mother’s treatment process was a success and she survived and beat breast cancer. At that moment, joy was brought back into my life. I had my mother again by my side and we were going strong.
I continued to play the sport I love most and decided that I wanted to take my career to the next level; collegiate. I worked my butt off every single time I stepped on the court. My junior summer, going into my senior year, I was playing the best basketball of my career and the hard work was paying off. I had a countless number of division one universities interested in me and willing to give me a full ride scholarship. Sadly, at a college viewing tournament I went down with a significant injury. I had torn my ACL in front of schools that were going to offer me. Yet, another setback. I still wanted to pursue my dream and worked harder than ever to play my senior year of high school. I was able to play in nine games when my knee was injured again. At that point, I figured my dream of playing college basketball was over. Thankfully, my GPA was a 3.9 and as a result received several academic scholarships.
My first year of college was a year of finding myself. I wanted to go into Saint Martin’s University with no one knowing my past; my mother’s health problem, nor that I had failed at being a college athlete. However, that was nearly impossible for me to accomplish. I could not stay out of the gym. It was and still is my sanctuary. Once my secret was out the bag – that I was considered a division one basketball player – I decided that I was going to give my dream one more chance. During this time, my grandmother had passed and all she ever wanted for me was to play college basketball. I knew I had to make my dream a reality. I went to the head coach at Saint Martin’s, Tim Healy, and had a discussion with him about my future with the program. As any coach would, he told me I had to prove myself to him and the team. I took on this challenge. Since the team was mid-way through their season, all my workouts had to be completed by myself and on my own time. Between classes and work study, I squeezed every free chance I had to get in the gym. During the week days, I sharpened my skills at the school’s recreation center. I would be in there for hours on end. On weekends, I came home and had individual training sessions with my youth coach, Denn Pretz. I was determined to make this team. Once the ladies’ season was over, coach introduced me to the team and announced that I would be on the team for the following season. Best news of my life! I had accomplish my dream of playing collegiate basketball. The team took me in like family. I started working out with them in the spring of 2014 and played in a summer league with them. Everything was falling into place.
I was extremely excited to start my sophomore year of college at Saint Martin’s. About two weeks into the semester, I received the worst news anyone could ever imagine. My mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, having six to eighteen months to live. I had to make the hardest decision of my life; stay in school or drop out and take care of my mother. This shattered me into pieces. It was the beginning of a new year that I knew was going to be a year to remember. This time I tried something new, I came dependent on others. I had many conversations with family, friends, professors and etc. on what would be the best thing for me to do. Everyone in my family wanted me to stay in school, but I could not let my mother be alone at the time when she needed someone the most. After my philosophy class, I spoke with Father Pratt (philosophy professor). We talked about my options and something he said stoke with me. “If you stay at school”, he said, “Will you lose the person you came in as? You are so busy with school, work study, and basketball. Would you have the time or energy to deal with it all?” He then continued on to say, “God placed you in this situation for a reason, and just remember that school will always be here, it is not going anywhere.” After this talk with Father Pratt, I had made up my mind. I decided that I was going to drop out of school and become my mother’s caregiver.
I returned home and quickly picked up a part-time job in the retail industry to help my mother with bills. At first it was not bad. I enjoyed working and helping my mother. I saw it as my obligation and duty as her daughter to take care of her. However, now I watch my mother die slowly every day. The cancer has spread to her brain, liver, and adrenal gland. The chemotherapy and the ridiculous amount of drugs she is taking is causing her body to die. It has caused her to work from home and hardly ever leave the house. Now, she is in constant pain. Her bones are weakening, her knees tremble every time she tries to get up or walk, and her ankles and feet are swollen. She can not doing much on her own. I know the end is near. I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable and dependent on others. Friends and family constantly come by to help watch mother, cook, clean, and other daily chores. My mother is going on disability at the end of February and will no longer be able to afford our apartment that we live in. As a result, we have decided to have her live with a family friend who can be there for her at all hours, and I will live with my God brother.
You are probably wondering why I’m writing my story. I promised my mother that I am going to go back to school in the fall of 2015, no matter what her circumstance is. Unfortunatly, Saint Martin’s is a very expensive school to attend. Luckily, I will receive all my academic scholarships back, and I am currently working on rejoining the basketball team and earning my scholarship. Even with both, I would not be able to afford to return to Saint Martin’s. Why do I want to go back to Saint Martin’s you ask? There is a simple answer. It is my home. I felt alive there. I met lifelong friends, was receiving one of the best educations there is in the state of Washington. Most importantly, attending Saint Martin’s has strengthened my relationship with The Lord, and that is something I cannot give up. One semester at Saint Martin’s made me decide that I wanted to minor in Religious Studies to go along with my major in Social Work.
I have enormous dreams of helping others and I know those dreams can only be accomplished through an education at Saint Martin’s. The Benedictine values at Saint Martin’s center around serving others. That is something you won’t find at other universities.
I’m being dependent on you and not allowing my greatest fear of being vulnerable stop me from continuing my education.
I’m asking from the bottom of my heart for any donations to help me return to Saint Martin’s. Any amount you can afford would be greatly appreciated. If you can’t help financially, all I ask is that you pray for my mother and I, and also all those who have been affected by cancer.
If you meet Kendall you will learn quickly she is a very self-preserved and motivated young woman.
When I first met her at about 5 years old she was very polite and well kept up. Even when she was a child, she always had manners and some how knew how to carry herself in public. I remember the first impression I got, ‘Wow what an amazingly polite little girl’. These days there are so many rude and disrespectful young people out there. Kendall is very special that way.
The next largest memory she imprinted on my life was her drive, as well as her desire to get into college - I think she was about 7 then.
She was raised to finish what she started. Each year when I would speak to her mother, Shelley, who is one of my best friends, I would inquire about Kendall’s extra curricular activities. Whether it was track or basketball, and etc.
Kendall was always doing something related to sports. It appeared to be in her blood. If she began track and did not like she was only required one thing from her mom, finish. Finish out the season and if you don’t like it, don’t take it again.
She struggled a bit with her grades early in her academic career. I think she got a C in reading for a bit and was just so devastated by a grade that was not perfect she worked extra hard until she began to keep her grades at A’s on a regular basis.
Kendall found her niche by 7, although she was still testing out the waters in several sporting actives.
It was basketball! Kendall I believe, had known for sometime that what she loved was basketball, but I think and she may disagree. What perhaps was holding her back, up front in her own mind was the that she wasn’t 6 feet plus. She just kept on working at it.
Once she realized that, in the next year or so, she was very talented, she continued to excel and kept with it.
From then on out, the words Kendall and basketball were like peanut butter and jelly; you just didn’t hear one without the other in a conversation.
Years had been passing by in her life and by now Kendall had been working strategically on her college resumes for 7-8 years. While all the other kids were going to a slumber or mall walking parties to shop for the latest fashions, Kendall was at practice or working on her homework. She was already putting 100% into her future, knowing the only way to achieve her dream was to practice and keep her grades up. It became her life, her walk and talk. She put in the time then so she could have the opportunity now.
In her sophomore year of high school she was struck down by the news of her mother having breast cancer. Her world was pretty much rocked to the core. Watching her mother who never missed work or games must have just killed her inside. However, she kept standing and playing. She continued to push on through all her mother's treatments and physical changes, until success! Her mother had become a survivor!
While continuing her dream, she was receiving much interest in her basketball skills, and being looked at by some of the top colleges in the nation.
In her junior year of high school as if her mother’s bout with breast cancer was not enough, she was playing at a college viewing game, being watched by some of the top division one universities, and she she tore her ACL. All the perspective recruiting coaches saw this and she knew what it would mean to her future. She was getting letters from Pepperdine, Princeton, Seattle U, UCSb and Harvard, and a handful more. These offers were full rides on her basketball skills alone. All the recruiters backed off due to this injury. This brought Kendall to her knees for about a minute. Then she got right back up and did exactly what the doctors told her, believing she would play again. It seems like it took only about 6 months and she was back up and playing hard. All along the way these special people would enter her life. Coaches, friends, and etc. supporting her goal and coaching her through the down times, supporting her mental state to get back out there.
She did it. She got into college with a partial scholastic and basketball scholarships. She took a job on campus to supplement the costs and had help from her mother.
Once this happened, she had to come to terms that her basketball dreams may not be the ticket she needed to get into college. So Kendall kept up her GPA, as she had always done, and relied on the fact that a scholastic ticket was going to have to do. Rolling around in her head was the secondary idea of possibly being a coach, business or sports physical therapist. She got both in the end. No one was surprised Kendall strives for perfection always.
She ended up choosing Saint Martin's University in Washington state. I’m not positive, but my belief on this decision is because it was close to her mom, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, although a survivor. I think she wanted to be as close as possible, and also have a great college experience in the way of a private school. Shelley was cancer free for about 2 years when Kendall went off to St Martin's.
I know how close she is to her mother and sometimes wonder that if cancer did not enter her home would she have gone to another school. She wanted to be a TARHEEL! None the less, Kendall excelled and began playing basketball again and she was happy. She completed her first year at St. Martin's as her mom went on with a clear slate on the breast cancer. Everyone around her was so proud.
When her sophomore year at St. Martin’s began, she got news again that her mother was once again plagued with cancer. I know Kendall, this had to scare her on many levels, and although she was trying to decide whether or not to stay at St. Martin’s and come home on weekends, or just move back home by dropping out of college and possibly lose her scholorships. We all knew she would choose her mom and move back home.
This time it was brain and lung cancer, even more scary. We hear so much about breast cancer, the cures, research, and funds. However, for a 19-year-old to hear about brain and lung cancer in her mom who was her only parent, I imagine devastating. Kendall’s father has never been around, and her mother has been a rock for her and sole supporter. Always supporting pushing her when she was feeling down and allowing her to choose her future. It was however, very important to her mother that she worked her way and earned a place in college. Shelley wanted to make sure Kendall had all the opportunities that perhaps she did not have. She wanted Kendall to finish college no matter what. After all, Kendall worked almost her entire life as a child to get there. SHE DID! She got there!
In the midst of all this, Kendall chose to be at home with her mother, leaving behind the dream of college. No one knew for how long. We all just had the idea that it would just be for a semester or no longer than a year.
Her mom has not gotten better and we are coming upon a year out of school. The doctors have taken her mom off all treatments and have had the conversation of life quantity and quality.
Kendall has made the decision to go back to school and complete the one thing her mom had dreamed for her.
More about Kendall, she is an amazing young woman. You can’t tell her no because she will prove you wrong. She was raised to do it on her own and not to ask for help. She was raised that people will let her down if she relies on them. Kendall is polite and hard working. While home, she took on a part time job so she could pay for her own expenses since she was no longer attending college. She spends as much time with her mom and family as she can. She loves her mom more than anything. I’ve never met another kid like her, although she is now a beautiful, smart, hard working young woman.
She needs to go back to school, for her, for her mom, and for her future. Most vitally because if she does not do it now, I fear she will get caught up in the world like many of us do when a crisis hits. I fear she will never get back on the path that she has worked so hard to be on.
When she came to me and asked for help in raising money I thought of this GoFundMe account. I know it is very public and that Kendall could raise the money she needs to supplement the scholarships that have been reinstated for her to go back to St. Martin's in the Fall of 2015. College is expensive, especially private universities.
I asked Kendall to write me a bit about what she is going through and I will attach what she wrote for me. It brought me to tears, for several reasons. Most of all, because I want her to see that people can be counted on. People can be trusted and there is a huge team of folks behind her wanting to see her succeed -they're here to catch her if she falls and help her get back up as she as always done.
Kendall has so many people that love her, however I think she keeps all her pain inside and only shares it with her mother. The deep pain that a young woman or anyone, for that matter would go through watching their mother, or only parent, slowing change into a thin frail woman who is now requiring help from others. People are there for her mom, and I want Kendall to remember this now and in the future regardless of the outcome of her mother’s current situation.
The world cares! The world wants to help. For me being able to be there for her or her mother is a privilege. Shelley is one of my best friends and for her to allow me in at this time is a blessing. This is the exact time people run or are shut you out. Cancer is a very private matter to many.
I want Kendall to see with her own eyes and accept with her own mind that asking for help does not mean your weak nor lazy. It means you’re strong and brave enough to ask for it. Both are amazing character traits to have.
You have to know what these things are inside to be able to be a part of others in their time of need or when your asked to help others. I found this quote awhile back and I feel like this is a good time to post it.
Be Strong Enough to Stand Alone,
Smart Enough to Know You Need Help,
And Brave Enough To Ask For It
I think Kendall has mastered the first part of this, but has lost somewhere in life’s translation the second part.
Kendall needs help and right now it is in the form of being able to go back to school, to get lost in her basketball and her studies, while dealing with the condition of her mother. She has spent the last 7 or so months watching her mother go through all the treatments, changes in her physicality, and the weaknesses of the treatments. I feel like she has had enough. Oh don’t get me wrong she is strong enough to take more. More than most, but I fear the reality is she is not mentally working through this. Sitting home will leave her empty and lacking the love of the people in her own peer group as well as the support of other’s who may be able to share in their life experiences. It will allow her to focus on other things, never forgetting what her mother is going through. College is a good place. It will give her so many new experiences and opportunities. Again, her hard work for all those years got her there, now we need to help get her back there. Throughout this, she has not asked for anything. No cars, clothes or the things young girls usually would want. She wants to finish college. I know she wants to do it to please her mom, and make sure she achieves that goal for Shelley, but I know Kendall, she wants this for herself more than anything.
Every cent you donate will go directly to Kendall. If you know Kendall like I do she will not use a penny of the donations she receives on anything but college related expenses.
I think of this as a side lesson that may teach her that people who are strong are able ask for help, and they have to rely on others sometimes to get where they need to be. Her mother has been a rock in my life. Shelley is my secret keeper, and has been there more times than I can count to listen and give advice - the strongest woman I have ever met. I have even had to borrow money from her, she isn't rich but she she would loan it to me anyways. Shelley has been a sister at times, a mother when I have cried on her shoulder, always having realistic and loving advice. Mostly, Shelley has been one of the best friends I have ever had or known. In return, for her friendship I would really like to see the little act of me creating this site have a huge return to support her daughter's dream.
What pains me most is I know Shelley enough to know, that having Kendall see her go through this is killing her more than the cancer. You 'can't' fight to be independent when you have a terminal illness, you will lose that fight and possibly your life. Shelley has to depend on us whether she likes it or not. That’s what friend and families do. We step up and ignore the silly crap of how she feels or how she looks and how her life isn’t all sparkly and clean right now. We reassure Shelley that the beauty in her inside is so over stated by whom we know her to be. Ms. Shelley, is Kendall strong, straight, shooting, and amazing mother!
So, in closing, I am asking for you to please help us all make this happen for Kendall. In doing so, I have no doubt that you will see Kendall in your future in some amazing role giving back whether it be coaching young men or woman, or something in the sciences. She is so bright and open to learning. Also, it is in her nature to give and always has been.
I would love nothing more, than for her to learn that others are willing to give back. So she can not only achieve the goal she has worked on for so many years with the utmost focus. That she also walks away at the end of her college career with at the very least in her mind the world is good and helpful when they see someone who has worked so hard fall down, that it is ok to ask for help. There is always someone there to help you get back up.
I know these may be hard times for people. If all you can donate is $10.00 that is okay also, between all her friends and family that adds up. We need to ensure Kendall’s success!
Kendall is going to have the rug pulled out from under her when she looses her mother, whether she thinks so or not. Please, let's not allow the world fall to pieces around her as she goes through this transition. It is up to, us her friends, family and strangers, to hold that world up for a bit while she reacclimates herself to life without a parent, a rock, the only safe haven she has only known.
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