Little miss sunshine: How Kyssi kicked cancer's butt
Khyrstin Andrews -- better known as Kyssi -- has never met a stranger.
Whether she's waiting for an appointment or receiving treatment, this outgoing four-year-old is full of smiles and personality. Kyssi comforts and befriends everyone she meets, so much that some might call her a hometown celebrity. In fact, it's not unusual for one of her more than 30,000 Facebook followers -- most of them total strangers -- to recognize her around MD Anderson and go up to speak with her.
Kyssi, usually dressed in head-to-toe pink Hello Kitty, sunglasses on top of her head, loves posing for pictures. "She doesn't like to cover up her bald head," says her mother Marla. "Instead, she wears it proud."
"Her big bright smile is now her best accessory."
Kyssi's Wilms' Tumor diagnosis
But as her mom also will tell you, "Kyssi's journey hasn't always been joyful."
Kyssi was diagnosed with Wilms' Tumor, a rare kidney cancer that affects children, on May 1, 2012 -- her father's birthday. She'd had no symptoms until she began urinating blood.
Just three days after her diagnosis, Kyssi had emergency surgery to remove the cantaloupe-size tumor on her right kidney. Since then, she has undergone chemotherapy, radiation and multiple blood transfusions.
But, Kyssi never complains or questions what's happening to her. Instead, she takes it in stride, knowing she will "kick cancer's butt," as she says.
And that she did.
A bell ringing fit for a little diva
Wearing a t-shirt that read, "Cancer picked the wrong little diva," Kyssi rang the end-of-treatment bell in the Children's Cancer Hospital on Nov. 27.
Kyssi was surrounded by almost 75 family, friends and supporters, and as a surprise, nearly 10 of her father's fellow police officers, including Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, came in uniform.
Sheriff Garcia hugged Kyssi and presented her with two coins and a gold badge similar to the one he wears.
Najat Daw Bitar, M.D., Kyssi's doctor, presented her with an achievement award for the courage and determination she showed during treatment.
Life after cancer
"Not having treatment will be a big change for us," Marla says. "I look forward to getting Kyssi enrolled in preschool and making her life normal again."
Even though Kyssi is "super strong," as she loves to say, she certainly won't miss those shots.