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age 10, soft tissue cancer


Kenlie was irrepressible. Vivacious and outgoing, she used to turn everyone she met into a friend. It was impossible not to be impressed by her sunny personality — especially because Kenlie battled cancer almost her entire life. 

Patient Kenlie-Early Childhood

Kenlie was found to have synovial sarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissue and joints, when she was just a baby. She had been a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since she was 2 years old. The cancer began in the area of her left knee and spread.


Kenlie rocking out with Jason Thomas Gordon, musician and grandson of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas during a Music Gives to St. Jude Kids photoshoot.

At 10 years old, Kenlie had undergone knee replacement surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, physical therapy, and in February 2016, amputation of the affected leg. 

Even with her prosthetic leg, she still took any opportunity to dance. “The tears have been very few and far between with her,” said her mom, Jennifer, at the time. “She’s a very strong little girl.”

Kenlie with Mom

Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90%, and we won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.


Kenlie cheers on runners at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon.

“The hospitals back home are good,” Jennifer said at the time, “but if your kid has cancer, why would you want to go anywhere else other than here? You’re getting the best care. The radiation oncologist is talking to your regular oncologist and talking to the orthopedist, and you have a social worker, and more. We have a whole team, and they’re all talking about Kenlie. And that makes me very happy.”

I love St. Jude because they never give up, and they fight along with us.

Kenlie became a big sister a couple of years before she passed away, and she adored her baby brother. But in true big-sister fashion, she would sometimes roll her eyes at him. “He’s a challenge, because he likes to get in my room,” she explained at the time. “You don’t know how many times I have to say, ‘No, no, not in my room. You can’t mess with my stuff!’”

Editor’s Note: We regret to inform you that Kenlie passed away in July 2017.


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