EKY teen following dreams after overcoming Leukemia

By: Michelle Heron Email
By: Michelle Heron Email

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) We first introduced you to Kirby Whitaker when he was given a shopping spree more than 10 years ago at the Hazard Wal Mart.

“I got to ride in one of those scooter things, and I think that was the most fun part,” Kirby said.

The Lexington Dream Factory granted Kirby’s wish after he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoma Leukemia.

“He was a normal 7 year old kid, who just loved life,” Kirby’s mom Kathy Whitaker said.

“He went everywhere with me, I would wear a big pair of coveralls, he would wear a big pair of coveralls. He was my best friend,” Kirby’s dad Marty Whitaker said.

At just 7 years old, Kirby was fighting for his life.

“One time I thought I was going to die,” Kirby said.

“He was gasping to breathe. He looked at me and said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to make it. I’m not going to make it,’” Kathy added.

“My Mom had to go out into the hallway. She couldn’t.. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t do anything,” Kirby added.

“I said ‘Yeah, you will make it. We’re having a bad day, but you will make it. You will,’” Kathy said.

But despite his diagnosis, Kirby’s parents were determined to focus on the positive.

“You need to stay focused on you’re living with it, you’re not dying with it,” Marty said.

With the help of treatments and a lot of prayer, Kirby found out he beat the odds. At 11 years old, he was in remission.

“They all made a cake for me saying, this is your remission. You don’t have to take any more treatments. That was a really happy day,” Kirby said.

“As a family, we pulled together. Our friends, our community, they did fundraisers for us. They did everything financially for us that they could,” Kathy added.

Kirby is now a senior at Hazard High School where he’s also taking college classes to one day work as a Physical Therapist Assistant.

“Don’t take life for granted and don’t think that you can’t get something, like you can’t get sick, because you can very easily,” Kirby added.

But for Kirby, the future looks bright.

Kirby is now cancer-free. He still goes for check ups every year.


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