The Kernion’s Story
It has been said that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place. Unfortunately, life has taught my husband and me that this is simply not true.
Like most naïve young couples, Chris and I assumed we would have as many healthy children as we wanted. However; God had other plans for us. Over a ten-year span, we had three daughters. Two of the three were born with serious, unrelated medical issues that would change our hearts and lives forever.
We welcomed our first daughter, Breann, home on our one-year wedding anniversary. We were excited and nervous about caring for our new baby. Thankfully, Breann was an extremely healthy, happy baby. We thought we had the prettiest, smartest baby in the world (of course, we weren’t biased!) and wanted to add to our family.
We began trying for our second daughter. It took longer than expected but we conceived three years later. Meredith was born healthy and making her expected milestones. However, we noticed an unusual movement in her eyes when she was five months old. It was determined she was having seizures. After further testing, Meredith was diagnosed with an extremely rare brain tumor. In the span of 13 months, Meredith underwent three brain surgeries, chemotherapy and multiple radiation treatments. Despite all of that torture she still had the best disposition and an incredible attitude/spirit. We often said that she didn’t know she was sick. Tragically, Meredith’s cancer was relentless and continued to return after each treatment. She passed away at 18 months old. We were beyond devastated.
Shortly after Meredith’s death, we decided to try for another baby. Again, it took several years but we were thrilled to learn we were expecting our third daughter, Kendall. The pregnancy went extremely well and Kendall appeared healthy at birth. To our horror, she began having seizures at three weeks of age. Kendall was diagnosed with intractable seizures and continued having them regularly until the age of six. She had a grand mal seizure in church and we asked for healing prayers. We received a miracle that day because that was her last seizure! This astounded the doctors. While Kendall’s constant seizures were the most difficult component of her medical issues to manage, it was far from the worst. Kendall is now sixteen and her physical abilities are on par with a one-year-old despite extensive daily therapies (Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy) for 16 and ½ years. It is difficult to determine her cognitive abilities since she is nonverbal. Kendall has been diagnosed with severe developmental delays, cerebral palsy and cortical/neurological vision impairment (functionally blind). She requires 24/7 care to meet her medical and basic needs.
Despite her limitations, or perhaps because of them, Kendall is the sweetest, most joyful person we know. She loves being around people and always wants to give kisses. Some people may look at Kendall and see her deficiencies, but we view Kendall as a blessing from God – she teaches us every day about unconditional love and what life can be like without hate, anger, jealousy, etc.
While lightning does in fact strike the same place twice, and the storm that accompanies it often brings many challenges, God is sovereign and has a perfect plan. Over the years many people have asked us if we ever wonder “why us?” We have come to realize that is the wrong question – it should be: who was better suited to oversee Meredith’s treatments and care for her when she was alive or to give Kendall the constant care and love that she needs? These challenges that God has allowed us to go through have made us the people we are today. We have learned to rely on our faith and not sweat the small things. We truly appreciate life, health, family & friends so much more than before these challenges.
Through the years, Breann loved and helped her sisters. Seeing first-hand what they went through gave Breann a heart for helping sick and special needs children. This is probably why she became a nurse. Macey was hired to help with Kendall’s therapy many years ago and seeing the way she loved and cared for Kendall, she became like a family member to us all. We are so proud of Breann and Macey for starting Specially Gifted Foundation and know they will bless so many families!
As told by Jill Kernion, mother of Kendall and Specially Gifted Co-Founder Breann