Over the summer, Kaylee Carlson noticed a large bump on her right calf.
Thinking it was inflammation from her injured knee, she didn’t think much of it at first. But when the bump didn’t go away, her mom Jessica Raymond began to worry.
After an X-ray and MRI at Cambridge Medical Center, 13-year-old Kaylee was referred to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.
Following a biopsy, doctors confirmed what the Braham family had feared: on July 5, Kaylee was diagnosed with cancer.
“I was more scared than anything, and upset because they were telling me things that I wouldn’t be able to do,” she said.
Kaylee has osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that attacks the bones and other connective tissue with the potential of spreading to other parts of the body.
The community is invited to a benefit that will be held Friday, Sept. 14, at the Cambridge American Legion from 3 p.m. to midnight to help relieve the financial stress cancer can cause. A spaghetti dinner will be served from 5 to 7 p.m. with a $6 donation per person. There will also be a silent and live auction, a DJ and karaoke.
Kaylee started chemotherapy treatments in July and will continue for six months, depending on how her body responds. After the first week of treatments, Kaylee started losing her hair. But for her, the most difficult part is not being able to play her favorite sports.
Entering eighth grade in Braham, Kaylee plays volleyball and softball. Volleyball started in the middle of August, so she said she has had to miss matches, but she’s hoping she’ll be able to play in ninth grade.
“The support of family and friends has really helped,” Kaylee said. A few of her friends are planning a pancake breakfast fundraiser, and her family organized the spaghetti dinner.
The cancer is in her fibula, the long bone on the side of the leg. In a few weeks, Kaylee will undergo surgery to remove part of the bone where the tumor is growing. Surgeons will also insert artificial veins because the veins run through the tumor.
After the surgery, Kaylee’s right leg will be thinner than the other due to the removal of the bone and healthy connective tissue to reduce the chance of the cancer returning.
She will also lose some mobility in her foot from a nerve that is very close to the tumor, but Jessica said this should be fixed by wearing a brace, and Kaylee should be able to walk normally and continue playing her sports.
Kaylee’s siblings, Jocelyn, 11, and Ashton, 7, have taken the news well, Jessica said.
“Ashton is still kind of processing it,” she said. “He’s actually been pretty defensive. If his friends laugh because of her hair loss, he’ll step up and say ‘that’s not nice; that’s my sister and she’s sick.’”
Jessica said there’s an 85 percent chance Kaylee will be cured, which gives the family hope.
“I’m looking forward to being able to go back to school,” she said. She’s not sure what her fall schedule will look like or if she’ll take classes full time, but she and her mom set up a meeting with teachers to formulate a plan.
“More than anything, I’ve learned to stay strong,” Kaylee said.
The support of family, friends and the community has helped the family, Jessica said.
“Life is precious and can change at any given moment,” Jessica said.
Donations can also be made at Affinity Plus FCU, located at 1820 2nd Avenue SE, Suite 330, Cambridge, MN 55008. Make checks payable to Kaylee Carlson Benefit Fund. For benefit donation information, contact Jessica Raymond at 763-300-3723.
Get updates on Kaylee’s progress at her CaringBridge website, which can be found at www.caringbridge.org/visit/kayleecarlson.