Family of 5-year-old girl with leukemia raising money to cover medical expenses

Holly Viers • Oct 9, 2017 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Those who know 5-year-old Kimmy Shupe know that she loves to sing “Jesus Loves Me,” cuddle, blow bubbles and do anything water-related.

And even in spite of her recent leukemia diagnosis, she still manages to keep a smile on her face.

“She is just a very smiling girl,” said Jessica Christensen, a close family friend. “No matter how bad she felt, she would always have a smile for you.”

Kimmy was born with a neurological condition called ataxia, which causes “a lack of muscle control or coordination of voluntary movements,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Christensen said the condition has compromised Kimmy’s immune system, causing her to develop pneumonia after just one day in kindergarten.

Kimmy was then admitted to a children’s hospital in Johnson City, where she had to have a chest tube inserted. She was later transferred by ambulance to her specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, at which point doctors discovered she has leukemia.

Christensen said doctors are “optimistic but guarded” about Kimmy’s prognosis because of her compromised immune system. Though Kimmy and her family live in Kingsport, Christensen said they are currently renting a place in Clarksville so that Kimmy can receive her weekly treatments at Vanderbilt.

Since Kimmy’s diagnosis a little more than a month ago, Christensen said the family has had a difficult time dealing with the situation. They have started a GoFundMe page, which can be accessed at this link: www.gofundme.com/help-with-5-yr-old-with-cancer, to help cover Kimmy’s medical expenses.

“They’re a good-hearted family,” Christensen said. “They would help anybody that needed it, and it’s just been a very tough situation for the family altogether.”

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