4-year-old girl inspires COC Athletics to participate in Lemons for Leukemia

by Michele Lutes 0

Instead of starting her education in preschool, 4-year-old Kailyn Anderson is learning to deal with chemotherapy.

“She is 4, and she gets her blood drawn and doesn’t cry,” said Kailyn’s mother, Lauren Anderson, 25. “She counts down for them.”

Santa Clarita Valley residents Lauren Anderson and her fiancé, Kamran Young, who are both former College of the Canyons athletes, have been impressed by their daughter’s strength, which has been bolstered by support from their community recently.

The help has been a comfort for the family whose world was shaken up last summer with the news of their daughter’s condition.

“(Last June), we went to get her a physical,” said Lauren Anderson, Kailyn’s mom. “The doctor had mentioned some things looked a little bit weird, but not to worry about it, and (the doctor) ordered labs.”

From the doctor to urgent care and then to the hospital, Kailyn continued to have labs done and tests taken.

“It wasn’t until they came in and formally diagnosed her with leukemia,” Anderson said. Her daughter’s condition is called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, she said. The term ‘acute’ means “that the leukemia can progress quickly, and if not treated, would probably be fatal within a few months,” according to cancer.org.

The 4-year-old hasn’t been able to go back to preschool, her parents said, and a relapse is always a concern.

“It’s like her life is on hold,” her mother said, “while the rest of the world is revolving.”

However, the family of three also are learning to make some of life’s sourest lemons into lemonade with the support of College of the Canyons’ athletic community. Young, 25, graduated from COC in 2013 and went on to play baseball at Cal State Dominguez Hills; and Anderson, a Hart High alum also, graduated the same year and went on to play at Miami University in Ohio. Anderson, who was a 2015 Western State Conference (WSC) Player of the Year for College of the Canyons, also currently works as an athletic program specialist at COC.

And the help began with the college’s football program. That team, along with several others at COC, have challenged each other to eat lemons to raise awareness for leukemia, Be The Match and Team Kailyn.

“For two former COC athletes and their daughter, to do something for them was a great opportunity for us,” said Matt Crater, assistant COC football coach. “She is just an amazing kid, and it was something where we could give back.”

COC’s athletes have been posting the videos on Twitter with hashtags, #LemonsforLeukemia,  #BeTheMatch and #TeamKaiyln20.

Today, Kailyn attends weekly and monthly appointments, and continuously has a smile on her face. During her journey, Kailyn bravely told her parents she wants to be a doctor.

“They were just trying to get her immune system back up and she was getting chemo everyday,” Anderson said.

“She is doing so good,” she added, “so we’re just so thankful she is doing so well.”

“Kailyn right now doesn’t need a transplant, but there are kids out there that do, or adults out there that do, ” Anderson said.

After an collaborated event hosted by COC’s Student nursing association, American Cancer Society club and COC Athletics, Be the match as able to sign up 109 possible donors.

After filling out a form to make sure you meet the requirements, “they swab their mouth and they are on the registry ton see if they can save a life one day,” said Alvaro Gomez, Be the Match community outreach specialist.

If you are interested in becoming a donor, you can sign up online at join.bethematch.org\teamkailyn.

“She is doing so good,” she added, “so we’re just so thankful she is doing so well.”

To find out how you can join the Be The Match registry, go to bethematch.org. Follow Kailyn Anderson on Instagram @team_kailyn20 to see updates as she battles high risk ALL.

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