Whenever a relative is battling cancer, it’s hard on the family. Whenever a child is fighting for his or her life, it’s particularly tough. However, this young woman made it out the other side, and wouldn’t change a thing.
Hailey Meche was a vivacious, fun-loving child growing up in Louisiana. She was very active, and she loved playing soccer.
One day when she was 9 years old, she felt ill. Her mother thought is was a bad case of the flu, and took her to the hospital.
The next morning, she was diagnosed with leukemia.
“I was pretty much emotionally drained, but I was also kind of scared,” Hailey told Humanity.
The news was just as shocking for her mother, Michelle Chiasson.
“That thought never entered into my mind that she would’ve had cancer,” Chiasson said. “It was an emotional rollercoaster ride for sure.”
The next step after Hailey’s diagnosis was to start treatment immediately.
They spent six weeks in the hospital for the beginning of Hailey’s treatment. As a child, Hailey didn’t initially understand what was happening to her.
“From the beginning it was kind of hectic because everything was firing off at once. At the same time I didn’t know what was going on until they came in with a white-board thing, and they explained it in cartoon version,” Hailey recalled.
After the explanation, she understood her illness, but she was surprised at why her body was essentially hurting itself.
“That’s weird. Why would that happen? How could your white blood cells, which are supposed to fight infections, how could they turn against your healthy cells and take over?” Hailey remembered thinking.
The journey included a lot of doctors appointments, chemotherapy sessions, and steroid treatments.
“We tried to be as normal as we could to allow her to still be a child while having to go through such an adult situation. It was emotional. But at the same time we both had faith in God that he was going to get us through,” Chiasson explained.
Hailey had two words to describe her treatment over the next two and a half years: straining and painful.
“It emotionally and physically drains you,” Hailey recalled.
Hailey’s battle against cancer would be brutal right up until her very last chemotherapy treatment.
During that treatment, Hailey experienced severe pain in her abdomen. The doctors spent two weeks trying to figure out what was happening.
They finally did an exploratory surgery and discovered the problem.
She had appendicitis too.
The doctors removed her appendix, and sent her home a couple of weeks later.
Hailey finally had some room to breathe, and the family had what they called a “No Mo Chemo Party.”
They turned the party into a fundraiser, and raised over $15,000 for St. Jude’s Hospital.
After the two years of chemotherapy and a bout of appendicitis, Hailey felt a tremendous sense of relief.
“I was like, ‘Finally, I am done with this.’ I was happy and it was also satisfying,” Hailey explained.
Within two weeks of ending her chemotherapy treatment, she reached all her physical therapy goals months before expected.
March 6, 2012, at age 12, Hailey had beaten cancer.
“We had such a set schedule for so long that it was like wait, what do we do now?” Hailey recalled thinking once she was cancer-free.
Hailey had to go back intermittently every three months for follow up appointments, and now she only goes back once a year.
Her future that once seemed so uncertain was back on track. She was able to concentrate on her school work and graduated high school this year.
Hailey will attend her first year at the University of Louisiana this fall, a huge accomplishment for this young woman who had battled cancer for two and a half years.
She plans on studying electrical engineering.
“I can’t wait to show what I can do,” Hailey said.
Chiasson asked her daughter one day during lunch what she thought about her experience beating cancer.
“It made me a better person,” Hailey responded without skipping a beat.
“There’s always something to fight for. You just got to find it.”