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Kennedy Ransom

Make a donation in Kennedy's honor.

Kennedy was 5 when she was diagnosed with brain cancer and just 2 weeks from starting kindergarten. While on vacation at the beach with her family, Kennedy hit her head and developed concussion-like symptoms. She rallied after the initial headache and vomiting and finished vacation with a day at the aquarium, followed by a day at the water park. Once home she continued to complain of a headache and had one episode of vomiting. This happened while visiting a family member in the hospital, so mom decided to walk down the hall to the ER to rule out anything more serious. The ER agreed it was a concussion but Kennedy’s mom pushed for a CT to rule out something more serious, at this time brain tumor was not on anyone's radar. That was when the CT came back with an initial diagnosis of ependymoma.

The local ER sent Kennedy and her mom to the back of the unit to sit for 8 hours waiting on transport to Children’s National. They arrived at 3am at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. The team there immediately told us she had a tumor in the 4th ventricle and they would need to operate to remove it less than two days after they arrived.

This was the first time Kennedy’s mom remembers coming up for air and taking a breath after a whirlwind and unexpected diagnosis.

From that point on things moved very quickly. Kennedy was settled into the PICU for 24 hours, had a full brain and spine MRI and then a craniotomy the following day. The surgeon prepared them for a long brain surgery that Kennedy would undergo, likely ranging between 6 and 8 hours. Kennedy’s mom Kelly recalls “You never forget the day your child leaves you to go to brain surgery. We got a call at 3 hours in, the nurse said he is closing. I will never forget the terror in that moment because I fully believed that meant he could not get it out. The nurse calmly said he told us he got it all. The loud screaming cry that came from me next is forever ingrained in my memory.” At that very moment she was technically cancer-free, surgery got all of the main tumor, there was no spread and her spinal fluid was clear.

Kennedy follow-up treatment was all in Washington, DC, 2 hours from home. Treatment was a whirlwind, Kelly remebers thinking, “we were like all families just thrown into the fire.” Their family made the most of it, Kennedy fought hard and managed to tolerate the chemo and radiation well. She had almost no short-term side effects. Kennedy’s family found out during treatment that they would be welcoming a baby about halfway through chemo. This truly was the light in the dark for Kennedy. She had been praying for a sister and she would finally get one Once the baby came you could find Kennedy in treatment holding tight to her sister and not letting the nurse get too close to her baby.

Kennedy completed treatment in October 2023. She celebrated with a huge ‘No More Chemo’ party, she ran across a giant finish line in front of her hundreds of supporters. Today Kennedy is doing all things a 6-year-old girl should be doing. Including growing hair, her once blonde curls are now a dark brown pixie cut.

Diagnosis date:
August 8, 2022

Age at diagnosis:
5 years old

Age now:
6 years old

Type of brain cancer:

List of treatments:
-6 Weeks Full Brain and Spinal Radiation
-9 Rounds of Chemotherapy
-Outpatient Chemotherapy and Transfusions
-Countless trips to DC for Labs
-9 Planned Inpatient Admission

" Pediatric cancer is not rare, so let’s stop calling it rare! I want the world to know kids get cancer, and they face treatments that have not advanced in decades as well as long-term side effects. I want all parents to feel empowered to speak up and push back if their gut is telling them something is not right. Kids deserve the best science has to offer, and right now, they are getting the leftovers."

💜 Kelly & Kennedy

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