Kelsey's Story | 2012 Kid Captain at Blank Children's Hospital
Blank Children's Hospital


On Saturday, June 18, 2011, the Michelsen family's life changed; Kelsey, Tammy and Steve Michelsen's 14-year-old daughter, was flown by LifeFlight from the Blank Children's Hospital ER to Mayo Clinic because of something no parent wants to hear: a brain tumor.

Upon arriving in Minnesota, Kelsey had a biopsy to learn more about the tumor. Shortly after, she began having seizures and tumor swelling, causing Kelsey to enter a two-week coma. Tammy and Steve were told their daughter would probably not make it.

"It was hard for me to watch her struggle so much and know there is nothing I could do but watch, hope and pray," said Tammy.

Kelsey did wake up, but the coma left her with left-sided weakness, left-sided vision loss and trouble with her short term memory. She spent three months in St. Mary's Hospital and had a total of seven surgeries along with radiation treatments. When the Michelsen's arrived back in Iowa, they were greeted by nearly 200 people in "Team Kelsey" shirts, giving Kelsey a special homecoming.

In October 2011, Kelsey began chemotherapy, and her treatment was going well, as an MRI showed her tumor was shrinking. But, in January 2012, the tumor had started growing again, meaning Kelsey would need another surgery, this time to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Kelsey's surgeon was able to remove 90 percent of the tumor, and she will continue chemotherapy in hopes of killing the rest.

Today, Kelsey, now 15-years-old, continues her outpatient therapy at Blank Children's, attending therapy five times a week. She also has been able to get back to her one true love: dance. In May, she began taking private dance lessons at her studio and even performed a small part in her dance recital.

"I cried every single time she was up on that stage," said Tammy. "She was positively glowing."

The past year for the Michelsen family has been a tough one to say the least. But, Kelsey's never-give-up attitude has allowed her to not let cancer win.

"Kelsey is a fighter," said Tammy. "Thank you, everyone, who has walked beside us in this journey. We greatly appreciate everything."

On December 10, 2012, Kelsey danced her way into heaven, surrounded by her loving family, after her courageous and fearless battle with brain cancer. She was an inspiration to everyone around her and is greatly missed by everyone who knew her.

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