Kasey Harvey: Beating Cancer
One Sunday evening in November 2014, Kasey Harvey went out with her parents for dinner and a walk around Shelter Island. She mentioned that she had a cold. A couple weeks later, the family would find themselves at Rady Children’s, and their world would be turned upside down.
On Monday, Kasey, who was in the 7th grade, went to school and trained afterwards with her Arsenal U13 soccer team. She then came home and did her homework. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, she woke her parents up complaining of a sore cheek and a throbbing sensation. They gave her some cold medication and sent her back to bed. The next day Kasey seemed better and went to school; she even completed a 3-mile run in record time, but her symptoms returned.
Concerned that Kasey wasn’t getting better, her parents took her to Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. Dr. Wen Jiang, an ear, nose and throat specialist, suspected a severe sinus infection and performed a biopsy to determine the antibiotics to prescribe. To rule out other causes of Kasey’s symptoms, the tissue was also sent to pathology.
That same day, the family attended an Arsenal U13 soccer game, watching from the bench, so Kasey could catch up with her teammates. Kasey had planned on returning to training the next day; her team was heading to the ESPN Disney Showcase in Orlando, Fla., in two weeks and she needed to be at her best.
As the Harveys were walking to their car to go home, Kasey’s mom, Susan, got the call that would change their lives. She was standing on the sidewalk with the phone to her ear, waving wildly at her husband, Rodney. Once in earshot, he heard her yell three words that he will never forget: “Kasey has cancer!”
“The next 20 minutes were an out-of-body experience,” Rodney says. “I drop to my knees and I beg for answers, while another part of my brain is solving the problem: I would just swap with Kasey. I would exchange my life right then and there and Kasey would live on cancer-free.” But Rodney knew this wasn’t possible.
In the morning, Kasey and her parents were at Rady Children’s. She had an aggressive, fast-growing cancer in the maxillary sinus below her left eye called an alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Her treatment involved both chemotherapy and proton radiation therapy, which uses targeted radiation to kill cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue. When the Harveys met with the doctors overseeing the proton therapy, they felt hope for the first time. “They just made us feel like, ‘You know what? We’re going to beat this,’ ” Rodney says. “They had a plan of attack.”
Kasey endured nearly a year of chemotherapy and proton radiation. During the treatment, with the support of her parents, she began doing everything she could to stay strong. In the weight room at their home, Kasey followed a regimen of cardio and resistance exercises. She went on a diet plan and began doing yoga. “Instead of lying in bed, I worked out, helping my heart and lungs,” Kasey says.
Kasey finished her chemotherapy and proton radiation treatments on Oct. 9, 2015. The next day, after her final imaging scans, she was declared to be in remission.
Throughout her ordeal, Kasey never lost hope. She now wants to use her story to inspire others and show that no one has to fight alone. Her family’s motto during her treatment was “Losing is not an option.” Today, the family is proud to say: “Kasey Harvey beat cancer – losing was not an option.