Fort Kent Girl Shows ‘Courage in The County’
September is “Childhood Cancer Month,” and for one Aroostook County family it’s been a rough four years.
In 2012, Kearston Albert of Fort Kent could not shake a fever. She was not able to get rid of simple infections. After several doctor visits she had a series of blood tests, which revealed that Kearston had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was rushed to Bangor and began treatment immediately.
Her cancer treatments lasted about two and a half years and she was finally in remission. The family; mom Sheri, dad Michael, older sister Robin, and older brothers Ian, and Gavin celebrated by taking a trip to Disney and Kearston took her last chemo tablet on Christmas Day in 2014. She was five years old.
With any cancer diagnosis and treatment, there are a series of follow-up appointments. She had been in remission for five months when, at one of those appointments, the doctors said the Leukemia came back. Kearston needed a bone marrow transplant.
To prepare for the transplant, two things had to happen. A donor had to be found, and Kearston needed to be well enough to undergo the procedure. The whole Albert family was tested while doctors resumed treatments in order to kill as many cells as possible. During those treatments Kearston’s blood counts were so low they couldn’t fight off infections so her condition worsened and treatments were halted. At one point she was placed in the pediatric intensive care unit.
She rebounded and, once again, treatments resumed, this time including full body and cranial radiation.
Doctors established a plan to simply keep her well until a donor was found. Results came back and miraculously, out of all of her immediate family members, Kearston’s sister Robin was a perfect match.
“When I found out I was Kearston’s match, I can’t think of a happier moment in my life because…I remember when she was diagnosed I would pray and pray and pray every single night that I would find a way to save her,” Robin said. “At the time I didn’t think that there was anything I could do, but then when we had our bone marrow tested I thought this is it. This will forever be the proudest moment of my life.”
Kearston is now seven years old and is again in remission. She said, “My sister Robin is my hero because she donated bone marrow to me.”
As for Robin, Kearston’s hero, she has some advice. “Even though you are one person, it doesn’t matter. You can save so many lives with your blood and bone marrow because there are so many people out there who are suffering and who don’t know what it’s like to wake up in the morning and not worry that ‘this could be my last day.’”