Amy McKelvey, Mother

Amy McKelveyWhen Amy’s daughter, Emily, was 17 she fulfilled a life-long dream of being camp counselor at Camp Lirecrest, her childhood camp. She loved getting to know the campers and helping them fall in love with the camp like she had when she was young. For one week during the summer, the camp was open only to children with cancer. Emily decided to stay and volunteer during that week, and was incredibly moved by how positive the kids were, despite their situations.

When Emily went home, she developed a sore throat. Her mom took her to the doctor, and when a mono and strep throat test came back negative, her doctor told her to rest and that she would start feeling better soon. She still wasn’t feeling better a week later, so her mother took her back to the doctor where a blood test was performed. The results shocked the family. Emily had leukemia.

Emily started treatment the same day, and only left the hospital for 7 days during the five months of her treatment. Her doctors believed that a bone marrow transplant was the best treatment option for Emily and began preparing her for the procedure. Luckily, a perfect match was found, and Emily underwent a bone marrow transplant on November 6, 2008. Although the transplant was successful, the chemotherapy that Emily received damaged her liver and she went into renal failure. After five months of fighting, Emily lost her battle.

After Emily’s death, Amy began looking for a way to honor her daughter’s memory. She heard about CureSearch and the CureSearch Walk from a nurse at Presbyterian Medical Center, where Emily was treated, and decided to form a team. Her team walked in the Charlotte CureSearch Walk, was the highest and second highest fundraising team in 2013 & 2012.

In 2012, a friend told Amy about CureSearch’s Ultimate Hike, and she thought that it would be a great way to couple her dedication to CureSearch with her desire to challenge herself. Amy looked at the Hike as a way to heal, knowing that any pain that she might feel during training was nothing compared to what Emily had been through.

Amy McKelveyIn 2012, Amy participated in her first Hike, the Foothills Spring Ultimate Hike in North and South Carolina. The event was so moving that she decided to participate again in 2013. This time, she knew the challenges of hiking 28 miles in one day. Every two weeks Amy would train with her fellow Ultimate Hike participants and revel in the time she spent with others who had experienced similar struggles.

“Every day I would train, raise money, and dream of a day when there is a cure for every child diagnosed with cancer,” says Amy. “That is why I keep on walking and hiking, for all the Emily’s who need better treatment options.” Her dreaming lead her to earn the second highest fundraising spot at this year’s Foothills Spring Ultimate Hike. She raised $5,950.

Amy is looking forward to the day when children receive new and improved treatments and no family has to endure the pain hers has. Until then, she will keep on participating in CureSearch events and raise money for innovative and targeted children’s cancer research.

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