Remember how back in the day everyone and his cousin would get his tonsils removed at the drop of a proverbial hat? At the least sign of a sniffle or cough, a child could almost count on getting those lumps of tissue snipped out of his throat.
Today, though, medical professionals are much more wary about performing tonsillectomies, but one girl from Quincy, Massachusetts, likely owes her life to the procedure.
When then-7-year-old Bridget Kelley was preparing for a routine tonsillectomy, doctors noticed some worrying readings on her scans.
Further investigation confirmed every parent’s worst nightmare: Young Bridget had cancer, a rare form of leukemia that affects white blood cell production and can quickly worsen if not immediately treated.
Indeed, Bridget was almost immediately admitted to the hospital. Her fight against the disease lasted more than a year and included surgeries, rounds of chemotherapy, and a stem cell transplant from her sister.
The most difficult part of her treatment, though, was the simplest: isolation.
Due to her compromised immune system, she remained almost exclusively confined to her bedroom, unable to see friends and unable to attend school.
“We couldn’t have anybody in the house,” her mother, Megan Kelley, explained to TODAY. “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.”
So when Bridget got the “all clear” from doctors, her peers and their parents decided to plan a special event to celebrate her triumph over the disease.
Family friend Kristin Healy started a Facebook group to organize a welcoming line for the girl — and it exploded.
“I invited 50 people, and by the end of the day it was 150 along with the police,” she said. “Everyone was just super excited for Bridget after she had a really tough battle.”
On the morning of Bridget’s return to school, the amazed girl found a throng waiting in single-degree weather for her, all cheering and waving signs.
Those banners bore slogans such as “Bridget the Brave” and “We Missed You.”
“It’s not a regular old day,” explained Healy. “There’s a chance Bridget could have lost her battle, and she didn’t.”
Bridget’s mother said she was surprised by the girl’s reaction. “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 totally went with it, and that made it that much more exciting.”
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