PEPPERELL — The Kelley family shares its story openly. They are fortunate now, but in 2008, it didn’t seem so when Trent, now 8, was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the white blood cells. It is the most common blood cancer and the third most common cancer of childhood, according to the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
For Trent, it began with swelling in his face and increased difficulty breathing. At first glance, his parents Jon and Rachel said, he was believed to have a sinus infection or a respiratory issue.
But with his symptoms continuing, a chest X-ray was ordered. With that came the unexpected news of a large tumor behind Trent’s sternum. It rocked the family.
“The pressure from the growing tumor caused diminished functionality of Trent’s trachea as its opening was reduced to one-third its normal size,” said Jon Kelley.
Trent spent several months being treated at Children’s Hospital in Boston, where his parents became regular residents as well. Learning new vocabulary words, such as chemotherapy, radiation and blood transfusions, Trent’s elementary-school education transitioned to an education in medical terminology and activities that he never could have anticipated in his young life.
Today, Trent is a cancer survivor in remission. He smiles like the happiest of 8-year-olds.
As a way of giving back and to help with the need for special blood transfusions specific to children, the Kelley family hosted a blood drive Saturday at the Pepperell Community Center, their third blood drive in Pepperell, and 12th overall.
With his dad, his mom, Rachel, and his sister, Reagan, 7, at his side, Trent greeted friends and residents as they arrived to register.
“It was a very successful day,” said Jon Kelley, “with the drive bringing in 54 qualified donors. With each donation reaching four children, the overall impact is that much greater.”
According to Jon and Rachel, the long-term prognosis for Trent is very good. Half the battle is attitude, they say, and Trent has an incredibly positive one.
(The beads shown on this page are part of Trent’s extensive bead collection. Beads are given to children undergoing cancer treatment as a way of giving them a sense of accomplishment, having earned another bead.)