After missing 15 months of school while undergoing treatment for cancer, a 3rd grader from Massachusetts received the warmest of welcomes upon her return.
In September 2016, Bridget Kelley was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia. Since then, she has undergone countless surgeries, chemotherapy, and stem cell treatments. She spent 88 days in a hospital and the rest of the past 15 months at home, unable to go to school or see her friends.
“She had to live in isolation,” explains Bridget’s mother, Megan. “We couldn’t have anybody in the house. She understood that the cancer was serious, but it was almost more devastating that she wasn’t able to go to school or soccer or dance or birthday parties.”
Thankfully, Bridget is now in remission. She also received tutoring during her time out of school, keeping her up to date with the rest of her class. As a result, she was able to return to school earlier this month when the rest of her school returned from the holiday break.
“We had anxiety about sending her back to school because we were so trained to avoid germs, but it was also such a relief,” says Megan. “It’s like we’re finally on the upswing now that she’s allowed to come back.”
When she returned to school amidst 4-degree temperatures, Bridget was greeted by more than 150 people cheering her return and holding up signs of encouragement. Kristin Healy, the parent of one of Bridget’s classmates, organized the event with over 150 students, teachers, parents, and even local police officers present to give Bridget the warmest of welcomes.
“Her classmates wanted to let her know, ‘You were out for 15 months, but we absolutely did not forget about you,'” said Healy. “There were parents crying. It was amazing.”
Bridget’s parents were initially worried she would be overwhelmed by the large crowd. But Bridget threw her hands in the air to celebrate her return along with everyone else.
“She felt so special and so welcomed after such a long and hard road,” Megan said. “She soaked it in. She totally went with it, and that made it that much more exciting.”