8-year-old Bridget Kelley wanted to return to just being a normal kid on her first day back in elementary school. She was absent for 15 months due to cancer treatments.
In September 2016 she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of blood cancer and spent 88 days in the Boston Children’s hospital whole undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy.
Her diagnosis required a stem cell transplant after the current treatments didn’t go into remission, according to her mother.
She went in with swollen tonsils and after an MRI it was revealed…
“We were completely blindsided,” Bridget’s mother, Megan Kelley, said. “We just thought she was getting her tonsil out.”
“She had to live in isolation,” Megan Kelley said. “We couldn’t have anybody in the house. She understood that the cancer was serious, but it was almost more devastating that she wasn’t able to go to school or soccer or dance or birthday parties.”
During her time in treatment and recovery, their community arranged to bring meals to the family’s home, even raising money for cancer research.
When she finally was able to return to school, now entering the 3rd grade, she was in for quite a surprise as she walked into Merrymount Elementary School in Quincy, Massachusetts when hundreds of students, parents, teachers, and even police officers were there to greet her back.
“It was almost overwhelming,” Bridget’s mother, Megan Kelley, told TODAY. “She felt so special and so welcomed after such a long and hard road.”
“Her classmates wanted to let her know, ‘You were out for 15 months, but we absolutely did not forget about you,” Kristin Healy, a school parent who helped organize the gathering, told TODAY.
It was 4 degrees outside and they stood there, in waiting, as she made her approach.
“There were parents crying,” Healy said. “It was amazing.”
“When we saw all the people we thought she could be overwhelmed and embarrassed,” Kelley said. “But she raised her arms like ‘Victory!’ and she soaked it in. She totally went with it, and that made it that much more exciting.”