On New Years Day, 2017 Kendall James’ parents, Shawn and Kendra James got the news no parent would ever want to hear: “Your child has cancer!” Kendall was sent to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN and diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, Stage 3 as well as Group 3. The treatment plan which consisted of chemotherapy starting on January 13, 2017, surgery in April 2017, and radiation in conjunction with chemotherapy starting on May 1, 2017.
I had the privilege of meeting this extraordinary little five-year-old girl early on in 2017. By April 13, 2017, Book for Hope began to sponsor Kendall and her family to help offset medical expenses, gas, lodging, and anything they needed to keep Kendall in the fight against the beast, Rhabdomyosarcoma.
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and Ronald McDonald House became Kendall’s second home. I was blessed to get to know Kendall and watch her battle. I will never forget being in the clinic with Kendall when she was down to thirty -three pounds. The PA told Kendall she had no choice but to start eating. Kendall looked at me as well as the PA and told her she would eat if Mrs. Gaylon would take her to McDonald’s. After getting permission, mom and I loaded Kendall up and off to McDonald’s we went! We walked in the door and I asked Kendall, “What would you like to eat?” Kendall replied, “One of everything because I am starving.” So, it was! One of everything on the breakfast item with only orange juice to drink! We had all the food brought to the table and Kendall took her sausage and biscuit apart and you guessed it – she got sick. Mom grabbed Kendall and off to the bathroom they went. I sat there in my seat praying silently for Kendall. After awhile Kendall and mom returned to the table. There was no color in Kendall’s little face and she was very ill. Kendall turned her little face up to me and asked, “Mrs. Gaylon is God making me sick?” I looked down at this precious child and responded, “No, sickness is not from God it is from the devil.” I told Kendall that when reading my Bible years ago, I read about a man named Job. I told Kendall that Job loved God. I told this child I honestly did not know how it happened but the devil was able to have a conversation with God about Job. I went on to tell Kendall that the devil said if he was allowed to do some terrible things to Job that Job would not love God anymore. I explained to Kendall that God has a filter over all of us from the day we are born, similar to an air-conditioning filter and nothing would happen to us unless God has given permission. I told her that for some reason God was allowing this and it was my job to pray for her. Little Kendall looked up at me and said, “Mrs. Gaylon it ain’t working because I am getting sicker!” She went on to tell me I was going to have to pray more which I promised her I would do.
With prayers from all over the world for Kendall James, she went into remission by the end of the year. Kendall still travels to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to get scans and check-ups which is about a two- hour drive from her family’s home.
I have made many memories with Kendall that I will never forget. The memory that stands out the most is from recently, in September 2018, and literally brings tears to my eyes the night of the Diva and Dudes Cancer Event at the Omni Hotel in Nashville, TN. Oh my, what a day and night to remember for some precious patients of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Kendall was one of the children invited, and to see her in her beautiful dress, twirling, smiling, feeling good, eating, and having the time of her life was wonderful! She looked beautiful.
Kendall is seven-years-old at this time and has come so far. I knew she was facing a giant but similar to David in the Bible with prayers from all over the world, she beat the giant – Rhabdomyosarcoma! God used amazing doctors, nurses, surgeons, and a team at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN to help Kendall live. To God be the glory!
Also, I am thankful for all of our sponsors and friends that gave to Book for Hope which allowed us to in turn help the James family in the darkest time of their life. When a family is told their child has the number one disease-related death in children-cancer-they are beyond devasted. I am sorry that Kendall had cancer, yet grateful God allowed me the opportunity to journey and pray with and for this family
There are many other children out there like Kendall that need our help. Would you consider making a donation to help keep them alive? Book for Hope will be able to offer you an end-of-year Charitable Gift Receipt.
Written by Gaylon Hayden