When Justin Kendrick took his daughter Kylie to a Texas Health Breeze Urgent Care Center on May 3, he believed her abdominal pain was likely caused by constipation. He never imagined what the Kendrick family would soon discover as the truth: their 7-year-old daughter suffered from early-stage childhood leukemia.
Kylie, a Girl Scout who enjoys horseback riding and basketball, had visited the school nurse three times before visiting Breeze: once for a headache — which her mother attributed to trying to skip the sport — another time for a stomach ache, and again, um to get a mint for her sore throat.
“I kind of got sick of the nurse calls because there’s not much the nurse can do,” said Kylie’s mom, Christy Kendrick. “I said, ‘Well, if she thinks she’s sick, she goes to the ER.'”
The Kendricks chose to make an appointment for Kylie at Breeze online due to successful previous visits and the fast and convenient nature of the center. With a goal of getting patients in and out in about 30 minutes and the ability to get prescription medication on-site, Breeze was the best option for getting home in time for dinner — or so they thought.
At the Breeze Fort Worth location on Golden Triangle Boulevard, Kylie was examined by nurse Breann Jarvis, who said cancer was the last thing on her mind. Kylie looked healthy and her vitals were stable, but Jarvis said she still felt uneasy — especially after feeling Kylie’s stomach.
“I went through my physical and when I came in for her abdominal exam, my gut feeling was something was wrong,” Jarvis said. “I really wanted her to go for imaging to find out what it was. We talked about appendicitis, maybe a blockage in the bowel.”
Jarvis told Justin to take Kylie to Cook Children’s Medical Center to find out the cause of her upset stomach. After a five-hour wait, a negative monotest, and an abdominal ultrasound, Kylie was admitted to the oncology unit with an enlarged spleen, enlarged liver, and low blood counts.
“They couldn’t tell initially if she had leukemia because it wasn’t in her blood,” Christy said. “Most people, when they get leukemia, it’s advanced enough that it’s in your blood, in your spinal fluid, in your marrow — it’s everywhere. It wasn’t in their blood, so they had to do a bone marrow biopsy the next day to confirm it was leukemia.”
Although the news is every parent’s worst nightmare, the Kendricks were very grateful that the cancer was caught early, which gave their daughter a real chance to fight it and win. Now, three months into the fight, Christy said Kylie will likely need another two-and-a-half years of treatment to ensure she stays cancer-free once she achieves remission – which they hope will happen later this summer.
“We have a very long journey ahead of us and we are very encouraged by our faith and know that God will be with us on this journey,” Christy said. “We’re not going to let it define her and the only thing people see is when they see her. She is more than just a child with cancer. She’s Kylie.”
After Kylie’s diagnosis, the Kendricks turned to Jarvis to thank her for being adamant about the need for imaging and for not dismissing Kylie’s pain as just another abdominal pain or constipation.
“It’s very easy for someone to just agree with what we said: She’s constipated,” Christy said. “…But they didn’t. They did a thorough investigation and thought something else was wrong rather than just brushing it aside.”
Jarvi’s dedication to providing individualized and thorough care was life-saving in this case, but she said Breeze staff are like-minded and committed to treating each and every patient as if they were part of their own family.
“It’s such a blessing that [Kylie] came here and I could see them,” Jarvis said. “[The family] is like ‘You are our hero’ and I don’t feel like a hero. I feel like I’m in this profession for a reason… and [I’m satisfied] Knowing she was getting the care she needed, she came to us and we treated her kindly.”
While it’s not common for abdominal pain to be an early sign of cancer, the Kendricks are grateful they ended up with Breeze that day and stressed that the outcome at a different health center might have been different.
“[Texas Health Breeze Urgent Care] probably saved my kid’s life,” Justin said. “If they hadn’t caught it early, the doctor said, we would have walked another six weeks [without diagnosis] and would have various conversations.”
Currently, Texas Health Breeze Urgent Care has 18 locations throughout North Texas and plans to continue to expand. Breeze Urgent Care is open 365 days a year from 8am to 8pm. Patients are encouraged to make a reservation online to suit their schedule – or walk-ins are always welcome.
To learn more about Texas Health Breeze Urgent Care, including locations near you, pricing and insurance information, and what they treat, visit breakurgentcare.texashealth.org. Follow Kylie’s journey on the Kendrick family’s Facebook page, Buckin’ Leukemia with Kylie.
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