COPPERAS COVE, Texas (KWTX) For seven years, a Copperas Cove teenager was in one of the toughest battles of her young life.
At the age of 7, Kaitlyn Llanez was diagnosed with terminal cancer – stage three of Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma.
“When they tell you that it’s terminal, as a parent you always try to fix everything. Even when they are sick, you give them medicine, you do everything you can. But when you find yourself that you can’t do anything, it’s very difficult,” said Diana Llanez, Kaitlyn’s mom.
Difficult days were ahead. A tumor was found inside Kaitlyn’s body. Doctors said radiation was not an option and chemotherapy was not a guarantee.
For the beginning of Kaitlyn’s diagnosis, her father was deployed overseas in the Army. He quickly returned to be with his daughter before starting chemotherapy.
During a surgery, a blood clotting disorder was discovered.
“They were able to save a kidney. She did dialysis. But from that we found out we had a blood disorder. The blood disorder actually saved her life. So, cancer actually saved her life,” Diana Llanez said.
Nearly seven years later, after all of the chemo and surgeries – including having her gallbladder and appendix removed – Kaitlyn’s cancer is in remission.
“When you overcome, and I’ve seen her overcome as much as she has, it truly amazes me,” Diana Llanez said.
The now 14-year-old's journey has inspired others all across the area, including Theresa Naramore and Cheryl Green of Twin Sisters Interiors. They are located in Boerne, Texas.
Earlier this month, both worked with Savvy Giving by Design/Central Texas to re-do Kaitlyn’s room --- including a new mattress and vanity mirror.
Naramore told News 10 that the idea of making over Kaitlyn’s room came together and the surprise happened with the help of Diana Llanez.
“I can’t even describe it. She was so grateful and happy. She didn’t say a lot, but we could read it in her face,” Naramore said. “I don’t think she realize how special she is and how brave she’s been with all of her surgeries and doctors’ appointments.”
The surprise moved the family to tears.
“I like the wall because it reminds me of the ocean…it really relaxes me and takes all the worries basically away from me,” Kaitlyn said.
Worries that have proven to be no match for this fighter, which is part of her message to others.
“To keep their head up. Though bad things happen to you, good things come out of it,” Kaitlyn added.
Savvy Giving by Design is a non-profit organization providing “comfort, support and healing to families with a child facing medical crisis by transforming the interior spaces of their homes at no cost to them.” The organization has affiliate chapters in San Diego, Calif., Mobile, Ala., Tampa, Fla., Denver, Colo., Ozarks, and Charleston, S.C.