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Hailey Farmer

Hailey Starts on Her Letters and Numbers

Hailey Farmer spent last summer looking forward to the start of “kinnnnderrrgarten,” as she pronounces it, where she will learn “letters, numbers, add, subtract, all that kind of stuff.” The energetic five-year-old also hopes to practice basketball.

This fall brought a pleasant stretch of road into Hailey’s life, which her mother described as “a long hard journey.”

When Hailey was 14 months old, she was diagnosed with Wilm’s tumors of both kidneys. The next four years of her life brought months of hospitalization, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, four years of dialysis and 11 surgical operations, including the removal of her kidneys and later the transplant of a kidney donated by her grandmother.

In the summer of 2001, Hailey began showing symptoms of poor health. “She wasn’t herself. She didn’t want to play, she didn’t want to do things. She was vomiting at least once a day,” said her mother, Laura. “We took her to the emergency room and she was diagnosed with Wilm’s tumors, cancer of the kidneys.

“She started chemotherapy right away and was in the intensive care unit for a few weeks.”

The family’s first stay at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center lasted four months. Aggressive treatments were unable to cure the cancer in Hailey’s kidneys, so both had to be removed.

“She relapsed a year later. There was cancer in her abdomen where her left kidney used to be,” Laura said. “She went through six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation treatment. Then we had to wait for her to be in remission for two years so she could get a transplant.”

Hailey visited Glennon three times a week for two years to undergo dialysis treatments. Her grandmother, Brenda Cawvey, was identified as a matching kidney donor in the meantime, and gave Hailey a new kidney on May 4 of this year.

“Hailey was in the hospital about a month after the transplant,” her mother said. “Things are going really, really well. She has crazy energy. It’s a whole new world for her.

“She loves to swim and she likes computers and dance class. We are trying to learn how to roller skate. She loves to go to the zoo because she loves animals and dinosaurs.

She has been using a computer since she was three.”

Hailey still comes to Glennon once a week to have blood drawn for lab tests. Every other week she meets her doctors, who include Ellen Wood, M.D., Craig Belsha, M.D., and May Salem, M.D., of the nephrology division and Albert Chu, M.D., of hematology/oncology.

Laura and husband Michael gave Hailey a new little sister, Jordyn, on June 16. She, too, will make routine visits to Glennon for precautionary check-ups in the coming years. “Wilm’s tumors could be inherited – they don’t know,” her mother said. “Since Hailey had it, Jordyn is more likely to have it than any other kid.”

Many people recognize Hailey as she walks the halls of the hospital, and the outgoing little girl with big, expressive blue eyes greets many of them by name.
Hailey will be visiting SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital for regular exams until she reaches adulthood. “Her journey will never be done,” her mother said.

“They spoil her here. Everybody likes Hailey.”