At only 15 years old, Kyra has faced and conquered challenges bigger than many will face in a lifetime. When Kyra set sail on the Disney Cruise Line® cruise, her thoughts were no longer focused on treatment or recovery, but rather the unforgettable adventure lying ahead of her.
At the age of eight, bruising on Kyra’s legs caught the attention of her parents. After seeking medical attention and conducting a series of tests, Kyra was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare, life-threatening blood disease caused by the failure of bone marrow.
There is a wide-range of treatment options available for children with this disease. Initially, Kyra began to receive red-blood cell transfusions, which her body responded well to at first. However, it was not long before her blood counts dropped dangerously low again.
At this point, doctors determined that a bone marrow transplant was Kyra’s best hope of staying alive.
As an ethnic minority, Kyra and her doctors faced the difficult challenge of finding a bone marrow donor. The most promising candidate was Kyra’s younger sister Denise, who was not a match.
Kyra and her family never lost hope.
The process of finding a donor was long and hard. In the end, the cure to Kyra’s diagnosis required a made-to-order clinical study in cord-blood transplantation. In 2013, she received a transplant of stem cells, which ultimately saved her life.
However, this was not the end of Kyra’s fight. Her biggest setback followed the next year, when she was diagnosed with lymphoma, a rare side effect of her bone marrow transplant. As a result of the lymphoma, Kyra had to undergo another cycle of chemotherapy.
Looking back on her medical journey, there is a lot Kyra doesn’t remember. “I didn’t understand what was going on at the time,” she said. “I remember thinking, ‘I’m a test dummy.’ Now that I understand the risk factor of everything I went through, I feel very lucky and thankful.”
Due to the countless number of demanding medical treatments, Kyra was forced to miss a year-and-a-half of school and memories with her friends. Countless nights were spent in the hospital, away from the comfort of her own bed.
The wish didn’t only impact Kyra, but her family as well. The Disney Cruise was something to look forward to on the dark days. From a special VIP meet and greet with Mickey Mouse, to the opportunity to meet fellow wish kids on the cruise, the trip was a breath of fresh air for Kyra and her family.
“I’d be in the hospital and my family would encourage me to stay motivated because we were going (on my wish trip). It gave me a reason to keep pushing, and was an award at the end for what we all went through together,” Kyra said.
Today, Kyra is living the life of a fabulous 10th grader. In her free time, she loves to sing, draw, read or watch Netflix. She is still vulnerable to infections, but has been in remission for just over five years. The joy she portrays on a regular basis shows no trace of the fight she has lived through and conquered already in her lifetime.