2019 Honored Angel: McKenzie
The heartfelt, inspirational story of McKenzie, our 2019 Honored Angel, is a powerful and inspiring love story between a beautiful, strong young woman and her equally beautiful and strong mother and family.
But, honestly, it is much more than that. It is also the story of a young woman -- wise and mature beyond her tender age of 18 -- who valiantly fought an aggressive and terrible cancer while thinking of others by allowing her tissue to be studied in the hopes of helping other people, particularly other kids. “That’s just the way she was.”
It is also a story of divine faith, particularly at the end of her life, as she returned to the Catholic Church and was baptized by Fr. Kent, a healing priest that her uncle and aunt reached out to before her passing. He traveled to McKenzie’s bedside in time to baptize her per her wishes at her sickest hour.
McKenzie passed away just after midnight on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, 2019. She battled a very rare, unrelenting condition of mutating ovarian tumors called Sertoli Leydig Cell Tumors that eventually took her life.
Bianca, McKenzie’s mother, recounted the events that lead up to her diagnosis. “McKenzie was originally diagnosed with an ovarian cyst.
Normally, this is a relatively benign condition that is easily managed. A few months later it ruptured and it was then determined that it was, in fact, a tumor. She underwent treatment and, at one point, it appeared through scans that the cancer had disappeared. Unfortunately, it came back and then just kept mutating. In spite of everything that the doctors did, they couldn’t save my daughter’s life.”
“McKenzie would amaze me all of the time with her strength and will power. She’d always look at me and tell me that everything was ok.” While saddened by the toll it took on her beloved daughter, Bianca is appreciative of everything that was done for McKenzie after her cancer diagnosis. “It was comforting to hear that her doctors in Albuquerque were in contact with other amazing oncologists at M.D. Anderson and in the Twin Cities to consider the best course of action to battle McKenzie’s tumors. We also heard that doctors in Germany and Italy were consulted. We are so appreciative of everyone’s efforts. It gives me comfort knowing that the best minds in the medical community did everything they could to stop this evil disease.”
Being a normal high school senior was important to McKenzie. The disease wouldn’t allow that but her high school superintendent and principal delivered her diploma to her in the hospital. Her senior class has a dedicated page to her in their yearbook.
“Her last days were overwhelming and hard. She didn’t want to hear about hospice. She just wasn’t ready to accept that fate. She was a true warrior.”
Supporting Bianca throughout McKenzie’s journey was her boyfriend, Jesus, along with McKenzie’s brother, Joshua, and sisters Savannah and Natori.
“In McKenzie’s name, it is important that we keep research going so that others will not experience what my beautiful daughter had to endure. Thank you to all who support the great things you do with the funds that are raised at this event.”