Having a strong network of support can make all the difference to a person who is battling cancer. Karen Clay, a 10-year-old with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer which impacts the soft tissue, knows this all too well.
The little girl was treated at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta where they deemed her tumor inoperable. On July 31, the lower part of her right leg was amputated.
Keren was worried how people would react to her life-changing surgery. On her return home from the hospital on August 3, however, the young girl got a reassuring surprise.
Loved ones in her Chamblee, Ga. neighborhood lined the streets to show their support for the girl as she was driven home.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta shared the heartwarming video on its Facebook page . It shows the neighbors cheering and holding signs and pom-poms as the Clay’s car goes down the street. When Keren gets out of the car, her friends run up to hug her.
Keren’s mom, Kelly Clay, explained to A Plus via email that she knew about the welcome home celebration. “My two friends who planned [it] asked me all the way through their planning to make sure it would be something Keren would be comfortable with.”
“[Keren] was amazed,” said Kelly. “[She was] totally shocked, but I could see she felt the love.”
“I think she heard loud and clear that the people who love her will love her throughout our difficult journey. […] I felt and continue to feel so blessed by this awesome community that surrounds us and lifts us up.”
Kelly told A Plus that the 10-year-old has had two surgeries since the first one because her leg wasn’t healing well. She also has six months of chemo left. “We’ve had some setbacks, but continue to believe that all our hopes for the future are still possible,” Kelly explains.
She hopes that people watching Keren’s video consider those who are “different” than themselves.
“This idea was inspired by Keren’s fear that people would think she was weird or different than before without the lower part of her leg, so the first thing I hope people would take away is that people who look different need us to assure them that we see them as people, not as their differences.”
Kelly is hoping the video encourages a sense of community. “I hope that the video would inspire people to reach out to those around them to build a community that loves and supports each other. We are so lucky and I wish everyone could have what we have.”
Cover image via Brian A Jackson I Shutterstock