A Massachusetts third-grader was looking forward to her first day back at school in 15 months after a long fight with cancer.
Bridget Kelley is only eight years old, but she has had to go through a lot in her short life so far.
When she was starting second grade, Bridget went to the doctor’s to get a swollen tonsil removed. But an MRI revealed that it was something much worse.
“We were completely blindsided,” said her mother, Megan Kelley. “We thought she was getting her tonsil out.”
Bridget was later diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of blood cancer. For the next 88 days, she spent her time in the Boston Children’s hospital undergoing chemotherapy and surgeries.
She required a stem cell transplant in March after she didn’t go into remission as hoped. Bridget’s three-year-old little sister was the donor for her stem cell transplant.
After the transplant, she had to stay in isolation because of medication that suppresses her immune system to ease the transplant process in her body.
“She had to live in isolation. We couldn’t have anybody in the house,” said her mother. “She understood that the cancer was serious, but it was almost more devastating that she wasn’t able to go to school, soccer, dance, or birthday parties.”
While she was by herself, Bridget was able to keep up with her second and third-grade studies so she could remain with her classmates.
But the good news is that the stem cell transplant was successful, and she eventually recovered enough to go to school.
Last week, her classmates and parents made sure that her first day back at school was one she would never forget.
As Bridget walked to her school in Quincy, Massachusetts, she was greeted by students, parents, teachers, and police officers all holding colorful signs welcoming her back.
“It was almost overwhelming,” said Megan. “She felt so special and so welcomed after such a long and hard road.”
“When we saw all the people we thought she could be overwhelmed and embarrassed, but she raised her arms like ‘Victory!’ and she soaked it in,” she continued. “She totally went with it, and that made it that much more exciting.”
“Her classmates wanted to let her know, ‘You were out for 15 months, but we absolutely did not forget about you,’” said a school parent, Kristin Healy, who helped organize the event.
“There were parents crying,” she continued. “It was amazing.”
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