Kelsey Luria is a 17 year old senior at Catalina Foothills High School, and was being bombarded with headaches.
“I would just have, like, this constant headache my head would just be banging. It would feel like someone would be shooting at my head,” said Luria. “And then, the weekend before I went to the hospital, I had three migraines in a row, three days in a row.”
After a month of constant pain, clarity of Luria’s condition was received just four weeks ago. It didn’t take long for doctors to find that the headaches were a sign of anemia, and anemia can be a symptom of leukemia.
Within 24 hours, Kelsey was diagnosed. Within 48 hours, she had a port implanted for chemotherapy. Within 60 hours of seeing her first hospital doctor, Kelsey was battling cancer. Her mind was racing.
“How am I going to graduate? When can I go back to school?” she said. “Am I going to be able to go to myfootball game on Friday?”
Kelsey had questions and was quickly losing her hair. Two weeks ago, she decided shave what was left of it. Kelsey’s hematologist-oncologist said about 16,000 kids are diagnosed with leukemia every year. But most have A.L.L. Not Kelsey.
Kelsey’s pediatric hematologist/oncologists Dr. Neha Bhasin said that of those kids “eight hundred of them have A.M.L., (and adds that) no it’s very uncommon…”
A.M.L. takes less time to treat but can be more deadly. Kelsey has a 60% chance of beating it.
“I think that I’m going to get through this but I’m extremely scared,” said Kelsey.
She’s scared of the chemotherapy. Four exhausting rounds stretching into the spring. But Kelsey’s been a near perfect patient. Dr. Bhasin said Kelsey “…was very positive, she just said “tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it…”
Kelsey’s dad Michael Luria says “You know, Kelsey has always been stubborn, and there’s a good side to that stubbornness,” said Kelsey’s father, Michael Luria. “We knew that she was strong but, I don’t think we ever knew how strong she was.”
For Michael Luria, the past month seemed unreal. He used to fill his days with carefree, kids stuff as the executive director of Children’s Museum Tucson. Now, he can do nothing but fight. He’s in shock.
“To have your life, as you know it, up-ended in an instant is unbelievable,” he added.
Before cancer Kelsey was a social butterfly, an athletic trainer for her high school football team.
Now, she passes time typing a computer journal she might one day publish. In the hospital,
Kelsey got a visit from some UA football players who wear her purple #BPositiveTeamKelsey wristband with pride.
Kelsey, almost 18, is confident, she’ll impact the world. She’d like to start by raising awareness and research money A.M.L. It’s important to her because she doesn’t ” want anyone else to suffer through A.M.L. because it’s so aggressive. It makes you really sick… so… I just hope that I can raise awareness and, hopefully, be able to start some clinical trials.”
“You know, we just finished black Friday shopping and all of that and it’s so inconsequential,” said Kelsey’s dad.
What matters right here, right now? The future. Counting on it. Planning for it.
“I’m going to be someone who impacts the world,” said Kelsey.
“One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that, she realized the only control she had was how to chose to handle them so she made the decision to survive using courage, humor, and grace. She was the queen of her own life, and the choice was hers.”
– Lupytha Hermin
Leukemia has nothin’ on me.
– Kelsey Luria