May 5, 2017
For 14-year-old Caylee Miller, nothing beats seeing her 6-year-old little sister, Cassie, smile.
“She’s the highlight of my day,” Caylee said. “We go for walks together, watch movies and play Barbies. She’s just one of my favorite people because she is always there for me.”
Over the past year, the sisters have become especially close. They’ve been pulled together by the difficult news of Cassie’s cancer diagnosis.
The diagnosis – acute lymphocytic leukemia, cancer of the blood and bone marrow – was hard on the whole family, especially Caylee.
“I wonder all the time, ‘Why did God do this to her and not me,'” Caylee said. “I hope she’s with me through everything and she can grow up to be my age.”
“We felt so scared. We didn’t know if we were going to lose our kid or not,” added their mom, Jennifer.
The family spent much of Cassie’s kindergarten year traveling from their home in Gladstone, N.D., just east of Dickinson, to Sanford Children’s in Bismarck – the region’s only hospital offering pediatric cancer services.
Cassie lost her hair during the first week of chemotherapy treatment, but within a month, her bone marrow was clear.
“It means the world to us to have care like this here, close to home. We’re so thankful,” Jennifer said.
“Cassie actually loves her days when she gets to come to Sanford Children’s for treatment. The whole staff has become like another family. It makes me feel so good to know that she feels comfortable with them.”
Cassie finished treatment in March 2017. She is now in first grade and still comes to Bismarck once a month for checkups at Sanford Children’s.
“Cassie is just amazing. She’s a normal 6-year-old. She runs, plays and wants to do everything other kids do,” her father, Joe, said.
“She doesn’t let much get her down unless she’s told to clean her room. You wouldn’t know she was sick if it wasn’t for her short hair.”
And Caylee has seen her little sister show so much strength over the past year.
“I don’t know if I could handle this the way she has,” Caylee said. “She’s been so strong. I know she’s getting through this.”
“It’s great to know that she’s getting what she needs, so she can grow up, graduate, get married and do whatever else her little heart desires,” Joe added.
Thanks to funds raised through Brave Kids Bold Cures, Sanford Children’s in Bismarck has the resources to care for kids like Cassie and their families.
All funds stay local—helping purchase specialized equipment, further research and provide assistance to families with expenses not covered by insurance, such as meals, mileage and lodging.
“To those who support Brave Kids Bold Cures, we’d like to say thank you straight from the heart,” Jennifer said. “Without the support of Brave Kids Bold Cures, I honestly don’t know what we would have done. We’re just truly grateful. Thank you.”
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Learn more about Brave Kids Bold Cures at Sanford Children’s and support its lifesaving mission today.