Four months ago, Kaadi was diagnosed with Stage V cancerous tumors in both of her kidneys. Wilms Disease, a childhood cancer, strikes approximately 500 children in the US every year.
Kaadi, unfortunately, is one of them.
Kaadi’s parents are friends of mine, and she and her sister are playmates with my own girls of similar age. We met through a volunteer program which links students who are studying abroad with local families in order to help them acclimate to U.S. culture. Kaadi and her family are from Saudi Arabia; her father is here studying Electrical Engineering at Michigan State University.
In February of 2017, Kaadi’s parents brought her to the pediatrician with concerns about her belly seeming increasingly firm and distended. During subsequent visits, they were repeatedly reassured that her toddler “potbelly” was nothing to worry about. Still convinced that something wasn’t quite right, they sought a second opinion in April. It was soon discovered that Kaadi had not one, but TWO tumors the size of oranges growing inside her tiny toddler torso- one on each kidney.
Next week, Kaadi will complete her 8th week of chemotherapy at CS Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan. The results of this treatment can be summed up in four words: too little, too late. Kaadi’s parents are now faced with their only remaining option: for Kaadi to undergo surgery removing one kidney entirely, along with the removal of 40% of the other kidney. This will leave her with insufficient kidney function overall, resulting in extreme and ongoing health complications moving forward in her life, if not an end to her life entirely.
Meanwhile, her father is here on a student VISA with sponsorship coming from back home, which is dependent upon his continued studies at the university. Though he would like to pause in his studies to focus on his daughter’s fight, doing so would mean losing his living stipend, his health insurance, his housing, and his means to support his family. A J-1 student VISA does not allow one to work legally in the United States. Returning to Saudi Arabia would mean putting Kaadi's health in grave danger during an international flight and removing her from a state-of-the-art health facility made for children like her.
Kaadi’s father informed me today, after much prodding by me, that he can no longer afford to pay rent at their small apartment. The family must make frequent visits to the Children’s Hospital (65 miles away in Ann Arbor), and he is awaiting approval for an extension from his Saudi sponsor so that he can continue receiving his stipend despite not enrolling in coursework for the upcoming fall semester.
I can’t help but to think what a blessing it would be for this family to be able to focus on caring for their very sick three-year-old daughter rather than worrying about how to put gas in their car, pay rent, or buy groceries. I know they would feel so encouraged to have their community rally around them for support. My family has supported them as much as we are able, so I’m reaching out to others to ask for more help. Donations would be used to cover living expenses and medical expenses. I had no idea how much to request, as I’m sure the medical expenses have or will eventually surpass this amount. If you can find it in your heart to help me help them, please donate. Thank you for reading this. -Kristina