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Kansas’s Story

Hello, my name is Kansas Cassidy and I am 4 years old. On April 21, 2008, I was diagnosed with Bilateral Wilms Tumor, a cancer that forms in the kidneys. Both of my kidneys are affected. My parents are Todd and Donna. I have one sister, Britni, age 16 and one brother, Dylan, age 7. I love to play house and watch Dora. Most of all, I love babies.

Kansas was born on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 weighing 7lbs. 15oz. She has one older sister and one older brother. From day one, Kansas was the best baby ever. She has always been happy, always laughing, always smiling. She has been such a joy to everyone that knows her. Kansas is the type of child that loves everyone and never meets a stranger. She has a personality that everyone hopes for in their children. She is the most loving child and absolutely loves babies and baby dolls more than any child I’ve ever seen. In February 2008, I had taken Kansas to the doctor because she had become so pale and had black circles around her eyes. She got like this almost overnight. They did blood work then and told us that some kids have low iron levels and Kansas was just one of those that did. They put her on this horrible iron medicine, but she continued to keep low iron levels. I’m a research fanatic when it comes to illnesses and medicines for my children. I just didn’t understand how Kansas could become so anemic overnight. I even questioned the doctor’s office on three different occasions about this and even ask point blank “could this be a sign of cancer”? I was told no. On Saturday, April 19, 2008, Kansas came to me and pulled her shirt up and said “mommy, feel this hard place on my stomach”. I felt her left side and sure enough, there was a hard knot right below her ribcage. It wasn’t visible by just looking at it; you had to feel it to know it was there. I asked her if it hurt and she said no and then she ran right off and started back playing. Something told me right then that something was wrong. I had that “gut” feeling. The following Monday, April 21, 2008, we took Kansas back to the doctor and they did an X-Ray. The doctor was not very sure about the results and actually thought that it could have been blocked bowel. He sent us to a surgeon. The surgeon looked at the X-Ray and immediately sent us next door to the hospital for an ultrasound. After they reviewed the ultrasound, he ordered an immediate CT scan. Within 15 minutes of the CT scan, our lives changed forever! We were told that our precious little girl had Bilateral Wilms Tumor (cancer in both kidneys). About 500 children are diagnosed with Wilms Tumor each year. Only about 5% of those are bilateral. We knew our lives would never be the same. The next day, we were sent to Palmetto Richland Children’s Hospital to be admitted. Kansas had surgery to insert a port-a-cath on Wednesday and started her chemo on Thursday. After six weeks of chemo, her tumors (2 in the left kidney, 1 in the right) had a shrunk enough to go ahead and have surgery. We then left and went to St. Jude Children’s Hospital for surgery to remove all three tumors, most of her left kidney and a small part of her right kidney along with some lympnodes. We stayed at St. Jude for two weeks and then came back home and resumed her chemo treatments at Palmetto Richland. Kansas had her last treatment on November 6, 2008. Her next scan is scheduled for December 1, 2008. After that, she will have scans every three months for a year then every four months for the second year and then every six months until they determine that she is safe to go once a year. (To be honest, I’d rather have them done once a month FOREVER). Cancer terrifies me; especially when it comes to my child or anyone else’s. Our hope is that everyone will continue to pray for Kansas and all other children and their families that have been affected by cancer.

Latest Journal Update


Hello again…. FINALLY, I’m posting an update!!!  I figured today would be a great day to post considering that today officially marks Kansas’ FIRST year of being CANCER FREE!!!!  Yes, she has been in remission for exactly one year.    It was one year ago today that Kansas had her surgery performed at St. Jude to remove her tumors, lympnodes and parts of both of her kidneys.  Kansas has to be in complete remission for a total of five consecutive years before she is considered “cured”.  With every year that passes, her chances of relapse decrease.  So this one-year mark is one of many milestones we pray for during this journey. It’s hard to believe that a year has already gone by.  So much has happened over this past year.  Kansas has really been through so much and still continues to go through a lot.  She’s actually been though more than most people will go through in a lifetime.  She has done all of this with tremendous strength and determination and with the best attitude anyone could ask for.  We are SO very proud of her.  Todd and I both thank God every single day for allowing us to be her parents!  She is a true inspiration and we are all very blessed to have her in our lives. 


As most of you know, Kansas continues to have CT scans every three months.  Her last scan was on May 26.  Obviously, the scan came back clear (no evidence of disease) and as usual, that was a HUGE relief.  Waiting on those scans to take place and then waiting for the results is absolute torture.  The feeling of “not knowing” is almost unbearable.  After you get the good results, you’re ok for a couple of months, then the cycle starts right back up.  Kansas has been having some problems with her legs hurting since she finished taking chemo.  I will say that over the past month, she hasn’t been complaining nearly as much.  I’ve worried about this issue time and time again because you just never know!  Cancer scares me to death and yes, I worry about everything!  I have honestly contributed most of this leg pain to possibly being related to her diabetes.  Possible growing pains…. Who knows???...  Seems that everyone has an opinion of what could be causing this. 


Our Oncologist is obviously concerned about this too.  Kansas was scheduled to have an MRI done on her spine yesterday.  However, due to scheduling conflicts between anesthesia and MRI, her appointment was cancelled and rescheduled for July 15!  I was EXTREMELY upset!  Although we do feel that there is nothing going on in the spine, it still infuriates me that this happened.  The poor lady from pediatric sedation in Columbia must have really felt my pain and frustration.  For those of you that truly know me, you know how well I bite my tongue….  Well, she jumped into action and took complete control.  She told scheduling that this was absolutely NOT acceptable and had the appointment moved up to Tuesday, June 23.  Although this is still later than I would like, it is much better than July 15!  I think I’ll have to take this lady a little surprise when we go… She certainly was a lifesaver!!  Sure does make momma happier!  It’s so true… If momma’s not happy, NOBODY’S happy!!


Other than this, things have been going fairly well.  Kansas continues to be her happy little self.  We’ve had Vacation Bible School this week which finishes up tomorrow.  She loves VBS, especially being able to be with all of the other smaller children.  She LOVES “taking care” of the little ones.  She’s going to be such a good mommy one day.    She is definitely a little caregiver. 


Well, I guess I’ll be going for now.  I’ll be sure to let you know the results of her MRI.  Please, PLEASE keep her in your prayers.  There is no doubt that your prayers have been answered.  Thanks again for continuing to keep up with Kansas.  Your thoughtfulness will never be forgotten.  We will always be grateful for each and every one of you….


Love always,