Kinsey wouldn’t waste a second

Sam:

Sometimes you get the rare opportunity to meet a person that challenges your perspective and reawakens your zest for life. Last week, the S.A.M. Team had the opportunity to meet one such person. Kinsey Morrison is a 17 year-old Kentucky resident who is heading off to Stanford University in the fall for her first semester of college. When you meet Kinsey, you can tell by the way she speaks that she has experienced the true ups and downs of life and that she has come out on the other side a warrior. In her young 17 years, Kinsey has been at death’s door not once, but three times. Kinsey is a survivor.

When Kinsey was 5 years old, she was diagnosed with the same rare bone marrow failure disease that I was diagnosed with: aplastic anemia. She was told that with or without a bone marrow transplant, she would have 4 weeks to live. Kinsey underwent months and months of intensive chemotherapy and immunosuppressive therapy. After the birth of a sibling match, Kinsey spontaneously went into remission and has remained in a healthy state for 10 years. She beat all the odds, defying a disease that few doctors in this country knew how to treat. But Kinsey wasn’t in the clear yet. A few years later, her heart stopped 7 times in one day and then a few years after that, she developed hyperthyroidism. Dealing with three life-threatening diseases has opened her eyes to the necessity of living each and every day to the absolute fullest. She certainly refuses to waist a second.

Kinsey now speaks on behalf of young patients fighting cancer and other rare diseases. She has raised thousands of dollars for Gilda’s Club and she was even the keynote speaker at the 2014 Make-A-Wish gala. In sum, Kinsey rocks! Even more incredible than her accomplishments as a motivational speaker and her successes as a student is her unwavering spirit. Kinsey has found purpose through her disease. She knows that life is precious and that every moment should be valued. She is determined to live her “after” to its fullest potential and she strives to help other young adults and kids get the chance to do the same.

Meeting Kinsey, a long-term survivor who is now the age that I was when I was diagnosed, was nothing short of inspirational. It has been a true privilege to speak with Kinsey and other aplastic anemia survivors about their experience. As Kinsey said, when you have cancer or another disease like aplastic anemia, you will always sort of be in “the club.” But the club is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a place to meet survivors; people full of hope, love, strength, and passion. I know that this journey will allow me to meet many more of these club members and I can’t wait to help them share their stories with the world.  

If you would like more information about bone marrow failure diseases like aplastic anemia, please visit our awesome partners at aamds.org.