Mother who lost teen to cancer grateful for therapy trial developed in Birmingham

‘It’s going to help somebody, someday’

Mother hopes daughter's final months can save others

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - An Alabama mother is sharing her story with us after losing her daughter to cancer.

An incredible trial for a therapy developed right here in Birmingham not only gave her family several more months with their daughter, but it also gave them hope.

At just 13 years old, Kelsie Padgett was first diagnosed with a brain tumor.

“When you’re living with a diagnosis like Kelsie had, you kind of go through each day with bated breath,” said Kelsie’s mother Tracey.

On April 10, 2015, she underwent surgery to remove the tumor.

Tracey said Kelsie thrived.

“She went to school. She was a cheerleader. She was a majorette,” said Tracey. “Like I said, had zero symptoms, zero side effects from the previous treatment. It was really unheard of.”

But three years later in 2018, Kelsie had a seizure.

They went back to Birmingham to meet with Dr. Gregory Friedman at Children’s of Alabama, who found not one, but multiple recurrent tumors.

“It was a blow. It was a blow to all of us,” Tracey said. “Just completely unexpected because of how well she had been doing.”

That’s when Tracey found out about a trial Dr. Friedman had started.

In the trial, a modified version of the herpes virus is delivered directly into the tumor of children with brain tumors.

And Kelsie was a candidate.

For Tracey and her family, participating in the trial was the obvious choice to make.

“Kelsie being a part of this trial, even if her tumor may have been too far gone, that it’s going to help somebody, someday,” she said.

Tracey said the trial gave the Padgett’s several more months with Kelsie.

Kelsie died October 29, 2018, 18 days after her 17th birthday.

“Just be grateful for every moment that you have,” said Tracey, holding back tears. “You have to find the things to be thankful for in every day. Because there are. There’s always something to be thankful for.”

The findings from that trial showed a lot of promise and were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on April 10 - the same month and day Kelsie’s first brain tumor was removed six years ago.

Her mother said that’s more than a coincidence, and knows her daughter’s participation in the trial could save more children in the future.

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