Bryanna Kithcen was 9 when her mom took her to the hospital for what doctors initially thought was a case of meningitis. After testing, they realized it was actually a form of cancer, and after more testing, honed in on the specific type that Bryanna had. It was an early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Bryanna was in Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., as doctors worked to find a combination of treatments that could help her. She had gone into a coma, and sometimes the only way to know if she was responding to something was through an increase in her blood pressure.
There was a Catholic chapel in the hospital, right around the corner from Bryanna's room. Kristena isn't Catholic, but the room was beautiful and peaceful, and she wanted to bring some of that to Bryanna. She walked back to her daughter's room and started to tell her about the castle right around the corner — the stories would become the beginning of Kristena's recently released children's book, "Cotton Candy Clouds."
Kristena repeated the cotton candy story over and over to Bryanna during the last 10 days of her life. Bryanna died on Oct. 24, 2016, only a few months after she was diagnosed.
Bryanna wanted to find a way to honor Bryanna and the way she had lived her short life. Then an idea hit her: a book.
"Cotton Candy Clouds" tells a story about how kids can get through difficult things with love and their imaginations. It follows a little girl who has to go to the hospital but remembers the magic of unicorns and her family's love. It's on sale now, and all of the money made from it will go toward Bryanna's Love, which is running out of money. The pandemic has been hard and Kristena has hopes that the sale of this book will allow them to keep supporting families with a sick child.
We had the privilege to talk to Kristena this morning. You can hear our conversation below and find out ways you can support her cause.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- Buy a copy of "Cotton Candy Clouds."
- Learn more about Bryanna's Love.
- Donate to Bryanna's Love.
- Bid on the artwork to raise money for Bryanna's Love.
- Contact Kristena if you have something to offer that you think can help Bryanna's Love.
- Learn more about becoming a Bryanna's Love ambassador.
We share a feel-good story for our segment Make Your Monday every Monday at 7:40!