By Naya Seth
Introducing Kennedy Dunn, a brave 7-year-old in the fight for her life. She has alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), a rare form of cancer that affects 400 to 500 kids each year in the United States. Kennedy found a bump on her skin and the family had it evaluated in January 2023. They were told that it was most likely a cyst. The bump continued to grow rapidly, and eventually, an MRI was done.
Unfortunately, the preliminary results revealed cancer. The family says that everything moved very quickly from there. A biopsy officially confirmed stage 3 ARMS solid tumor on March 1, and Kennedy’s port was placed, with her chemotherapy beginning on March 3. She currently receives chemo one to five times a week, which will last for a total of 60 weeks. She will also get radiation therapy. If everything goes well, Kennedy’s treatment will finish in December 2023.
Going through cancer is not easy. In Kennedy’s case, the treatment sometimes gave her negative side effects. Towards the beginning, she faced severe stomach cramping that left her in tears, as well as a suppressed appetite, which can lead to a lack of nutrients. She is doing much better now, and not only has the stomach pain gone away but also her appetite is returning.
The family has also faced emotional struggles, saying that when the diagnosis was first received, it was hard to process, and they wondered, “Why us?” They moved past this, however, and are focused on staying strong and positive. The family has tried to keep life normal, and they have never hid anything from Kennedy. She is very involved in her health and her treatment, and this helps her know what to expect.
Aside from the emotional toll, this illness has also placed a financial burden on the family, as some medications aren’t covered by insurance. Kennedy’s family did some research and came across the Armer Foundation. The Armer Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by Matt and Jennifer Armer in 2019. Its goal is to help local children with extreme medical needs by reducing financial barriers that come with long hospital stays and treatment. Though the foundation doesn’t get a lot of publicity, they help so many families.
Visit armerfoundation.org/kennedy and make a difference by donating or purchasing a shirt in support of Kennedy’s fight against cancer. You can also join the community’s efforts, which have already raised over $40,000 through hosting benefits and a GoFundMe campaign. Don’t miss the opportunity to contribute to Kennedy’s journey and show your support by visiting her GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/f/kennedys-journey-with-rhabdomyosarcoma.
Despite facing this challenge, Kennedy continues to stay positive. The family has a large support system full of family and friends. Kennedy has one brother, Tanner, who is 4. Meanwhile, she loves learning and is a first grader at Cortina Elementary School. Because she cannot go to school right now, her teacher has been coming to her several times a week, and it is something Kennedy definitely looks forward to. She loves crafts, baking, and gymnastics, and her favorite foods are mac n’ cheese and pizza. Kennedy loves the color pink, and a big theme throughout this whole process has been rainbows. Her family says that Kennedy has been so strong, and they hope that you will send positive thoughts and good vibes to her!