Kaya’s spirit: A child embraced life, even in the final stage
The 5-year-old girl had a knack for making others laugh in the face of an inoperable brain tumor.
An article by Olivia Vanni
EVERETT — A few sporadic thumps can be heard as Kaya Sanders races from the kitchen to the living room, using the wall to brace herself as she runs, laughing as she goes. It is November, only a few weeks until Thanksgiving.
More than a year after her diagnosis, Kaya has outlived the 3 to 12 months doctors gave her. At first glance you’d never know that Kaya is sick. She presents as an energetic 5-year-old. Everyone in the room smiles as they watch this little fireball with bouncing brown curls.
As Kaya’s hospice nurse Pam Crayne-Smith tries to wrangle her in for her weekly vitals check up, Jasmine Kaiser describes her daughter’s diagnosis. Kaya has DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma), an inoperable brain stem tumor that affects basic motor skills and essential bodily functions, including heart beat, coordination and vision. Jasmine’s smile fades and a tear slips down her cheek.