CAVE SPRING – Any given day when you read or listen to the news you will see a tragedy; someone who didn’t deserve what happened to them; something horrible that has happened. You will hear things like “What is wrong with our world?” and “Nobody cares.”
It’s easy to become cynical and pessimistic. However, if you look around Our Valley, it is just as easy to realize that this isn’t really the way things are. Last week, students at Salem High School raised almost $9,000 for a student who doesn’t even attend their school, 15-year-old Kendall Bayne of Cave Spring High School who has a rare type of life-threatening cancer.
On Valentine’s Day, Kendall found out she had a tumor. A week later she had an 11-hour surgery to remove the 11-cm- size tumor from her adrenal glands on top of her kidneys.
That is enough to stop most in their tracks.
Kendall, however, happily shows off the scar. This summer she continued wearing her bikini and her friends made jokes about her “shark attack.”
A routine scan on Aug. 25 revealed Kendall had relapsed. She has adrenal cortical carcinoma. For people in her age group, the chances of getting this type of cancer are one to two out of 3 million, with only approximately 500 cases documented world-wide.
The scan showed five small tumors in her lungs, three in her left lung and two in her right.
She will travel to Duke on Oct. 28 where she’ll undergo another scan and then have surgery to remove the tumors on her left lung. After that she will have a two to three-week healing period before having surgery to remove the ones on her right lung.
Finally, she’ll begin an eight-month chemotherapy treatment program.
In the meantime, something extraordinary has happened; something beautiful; something that defies all the non-stop bad news that you see everywhere else.
A wave of support and an out-pouring of positive thoughts and love has flowed from the Cave Spring community and spread across the Valley.
Several signs have appeared around the Cave Spring area, most notably at Kroger and Bojangle’s. Cave Spring, Hidden Valley and Salem High schools have sold shirts in honor and support of Kendall.
“It’s amazing,” said Kendall’s father Jere of the support they’ve received at a recent fundraiser. “Cancer stops everything. I feel like we have thousands of people going through it with us. Kendall’s about ready to go through the hardest fight of her life and she feels ready for it because of this. It makes you feel good about the community you live in.”
On Oct. 9, “Team Kendall – Fight Like a Knight” held a fundraiser at Cave Spring High School. There were Zumba classes in one parking lot for $10, a car wash in another of the school’s parking lots for $8, a silent auction, T-shirts for sale and food. In a spirit of giving back to those who were giving, there were also prizes given away throughout the afternoon.
There was even a surprise celebrity appearance: Guinivere the Pink Poodle – now famous for her strut down Isaac Mizrahi’s catwalk in New York and subsequent spottings online and in magazines everywhere—made an appearance.
For the occasion Guinivere, was freshly colored pink with a new coif to match. Her nails were purple and studded with rhinestones, and she even wore a custom “Fight Like a Knight” rhinestone collar in honor of Kendall.
“She loves kids and she loves a good party,” said Jenna Wigglesworth, owner of the poodle known for donating her pink time to charitable causes.
Wigglesworth’s children attend Cave Spring, and when CSHS teacher Jessica Ficarro approached her about Guinivere making a surprise appearance, they leapt at it.
“The support is amazing, it’s overwhelming,” said Kendall’s mother Andrea at the fundraiser. “It keeps her mind staying busy, thinking about the positive and the fun. It takes away the stress.”
Salem High School began selling shirts and arm bands in support of Kendall as well, two weeks before the Spartans and Cave Spring Knights were set to square off on the football field.
Salem sold 470 shirts, raising $4,736 from the sale. With additional donations from the Spartan community, students and others raised a total of $8,970, said school bookkeeper Susie Rudolph.
Due to a pre-planned trip to get away and relax for a bit in Florida, Kendall missed the game and seeing the students wearing the shirts in her honor.
To show her gratitude she and her father surprised the Salem High School students by showing up during their lunch hours on Oct. 10.
After thanking everyone for their generosity and telling them just how amazed she was by their caring and support, Kendall posed for photos. A couple of girls who had a free period after lunch asked if they could just hang out with her, and so they did, sitting and chatting away as carefree as could be.
Assistant Principal William Gerrol noted though these youth face the daily pressures of their teenage years, the stresses of fitting in, wearing the right clothes, finding their own identity and more, “They overcame all of that to show their love for one of their peers, one that most of them hadn’t even met before
“It’s important as adults, as teachers, that we teach these students to live a good story” he said, commenting on the support that came from all the students, without care for cliques and perceived coolness.
Salem High School senior Caroline Hall seconded that sentiment. “I think it’s amazing to see the whole school come together for one cause,” she said.
Junior Jessica Stultz, agreed, noting, “It’s really good. It’s amazing how much money we raised.”
“It’s amazing to me what kids, what people can do when they’re acting and thinking with their heart” said Gerrol.
While many of her peers seemed stunned and shy, they all approached Kendall with hugs, thanking her, offering her words of encouragement and admiring her for her strength. The students stood patiently and graciously in long lines, waiting their turn to offer their encouragement.
Many mentioned that they had sent her a friend request on Facebook. She thanked them with a huge smile and let them know that she’s been adding people as often as she can. Her account now has over 3,000 friends.
“It means a lot to me and my family,” said Kendall. “I think if no one was out there (supporting me) then I wouldn’t have any motivation. We hope one day we can repay them” she continued. She thanked SHS students, saying their support “makes me want to fight that much harder.”
“With this kind of support we know we can get through this” Jere Bayne said to the full cafeteria.
Though Kendall’s cancer is clinically in Stage 4 because of how it has spread to her lungs, her family and doctors remain highly optimistic, noting the tumors are small.
“The psychological support is just as important” said Jere Bayne. “We are so appreciative and grateful for all the positive support we’ve gotten.”
Another fundraiser will be held on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at Penn Forrest Worship Center, located directly across the street from Cave Spring High School.
The family event will have vendor tables featuring a variety of goods and services, raffles of prizes donated by many local businesses, a bake sale and breakfast and lunch.
For the children there will be a bounce house and a hayride.
To find out more, and to find ways to support for Kendall and her family, visit her website at www.kendallbayne.com.
– Carrie Cox