Khadence is an active young girl with a bright smile. She loves baton twirling, dancing, writing and helping take care of her two little sisters.
With her upbeat attitude and spunky energy, it would be hard for anyone to guess that Khadence has sickle cell anemia. She visits Children’s Health℠ every month for treatment, and over the past 9 years, has become accustomed to life at the hospital. Still, Khadence chooses to focus on what makes her happy – and her courage is contagious.
An early diagnosis begins Khadence's journey
When Khadence was born, she had all the standard newborn screenings. When some bloodwork came back inconclusive, Khadence's pediatrician in Waxahachie referred her to Children's Health where further tests revealed that she had sickle cell anemia.
"It was hard at first," says Khadence's mom, Olivia. "I kept asking why. Why does my daughter have to go through this? It took me awhile to accept."
Khadence had a high risk for stroke, and the team at Children's Health regularly monitored her using Transcranial Doppler (TCD) testing. At 3 years old, she began receiving monthly blood transfusions.
"I didn't like getting poked," Khadence says.
But the process has gotten easier over the past 6 years, thanks in part to the care team who walks alongside Khadence every step of the way.
"This is our second family," says Olivia. "Whenever we need something, they are here to support us. It"s been a journey for sure."
Managing care and encouraging passions
Khadence continues to visit the hospital for checkups and transfusions. She takes daily medications and supplements, and occasionally struggles with stomach aches or headaches.
"I notice her energy level decreases when we’re about due for a transfusion," says Olivia. "But after her transfusion, she's bouncing off the wall. We call it her 'good blood.'"
Khadence explains that her treatments were the inspiration for her drawing, which is featured on the 2018 Children's Health Sickle Cell Awareness Month t-shirt.
"Getting a transfusion is like having a superhero help you," she says. When asked if she feels like a superhero, too, she smiles and nods.
As she prepares to enter the fourth grade, Khadence has big plans for her future. She wants to attend the same university her mom did and eventually become a nurse.
"Khadence likes to learn," says Coco Kelly, certified medical assistant at Children's Health. "She always watches us and wants to practice what we’re doing. She also encourages the other patients getting treatment."
Cheering on others makes Khadence happy. She is a regular at volleyball games for the team her mother coaches. Over the past 2 years, she has made many new friends at Camp Jubilee, a summer camp for kids with sickle cell disease.
Khadence's advice for other children facing sickle cell is a testament to her own strength and bravery. "Push through it and don't be scared," she says. With her determination, passion and persistent smile, Khadence is certainly a superhero for us all.
The Sickle Cell Disease Program at Children's Health is one of the nation's largest serving pediatric patients. We provide comprehensive care with a focus on the prevention of disease complications using the newest treatment strategies. Learn more about our program and services.