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Inspiring Conversations with Heather and Hailey Bankhead

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather and Hailey Bankhead.

Hi Heather and Hailey, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
What started as a normal day ended up changing our lives forever. January 15, 2013, Hailey went to Pre-k as a normal day, I remember picking her up and her teacher said something is wrong. I allowed Hailey to lay around but she needs to be seen. Immediately I took Hailey to a local urgent care where she was diagnosed with backed up constipation which was not uncommon for her. The Doctor was in the process of discharging us so I notified Hailey’s dad of the outcome. So a few minutes later, the Doctor returns and wants to do an X-ray before we leave, X-ray is done and we are waiting seems like forever since we have already been discharged, The Doctor comes in and her face is so pale she begins to say I can fly Hailey or you can drive her to Egleston she is already admitted. Huh what admitted for constipation is what is running through my mind, I can drive her, in the meantime, the Doctor is saying words that is going over my head but she never mentioned Cancer. We proceed to leave from Stockbridge, Ga to Atlanta during rush hour traffic, Thoughts in my head ,Maybe I should have let them fly her there so we could get there faster. Driving 75 North and there is no traffic, we arrive at Egleston and they rush Hailey right back. Apparently, I had sent a message to close friends and Hailey’s father, who were all at the hospital waiting upon our arrival. At this time, the doctors are going through labs and getting Hailey ready for emergency surgery. I am still in shock and began to shut down. I remember telling a church member; please make sure Hailey is okay and listen because I can not comprehend what they are saying.

Three days later, Hailey has surgery to remove her left kidney. For twelve days, we had to wait for the final results to come in. We received a phone call stating Hailey had stage 4 kidney cancer and stage 2 lung cancer. Hailey’s treatment plan began chemotherapy and radiation. Hailey remains in remission with a few side affects from the medications. Hailey is currently been seen by the survivor clinic, dental team and an endocrinologist. Sitting in the hospital trying to be strong and positive the Hailey Bankhead Foundation was created.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Everyday was different, I tell others that you live for the minute and everything becomes a number because you are trying to remember appointment dates, medicine distribution times and keeping track of how Hailey is feeling. That’s the biggest part people didn’t understand. You can’t make plans or you couldn’t have company is she was down, things changed instantly I am glad we had a great support system.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your organization?
Hailey has a special gift in connecting with others and has a genuine passion for people. In the face of adversity, Hailey has made it her mission to continue to fight by spreading awareness and sharing her story of hope with others. She is involved with every aspect of the foundations outreach mission. As the Hailey Bankhead Foundation evolves… Through our Foundation, we are able to address and meet the various needs that often go unnoticed during preliminary diagnosis. A few of the resources and services provide include: Hailey Hope Care Packages, Emergency Financial Assistance, Therapeutic Activities, Support Groups, Spiritual Support, Grocery Cards, Gas Cards, Gift Certificates & Gift Cards, Meal Vouchers.

The HBF currently provides Hailey Hope bags which include items that a family may not have had time to grab such as toiletries, books, journals, socks, goodies, toys, and activities to help keep their minds clear. These bags are distributed throughout the year. When a family is going through hardship the HBF provides monetary assistance to help with utilities and food needs. Gas cards are also given in support of travel expenses to and from treatment for the parents/guardian.

HBF takes pride in children having an extraordinary Christmas Holiday season; with that, Hailey Angels bring the holiday cheer by providing a Christmas fun bag for the children along with a parent/guardian love bag. Christmas fun bags will bring the extra joy of being able to be a child during a traumatic time in such a wonderful season to be happy. We host several fundraisers and events throughout the year. As we continue to do our part by spreading awareness for childhood cancer, we could not fulfill the need of the families without the generosity of donors and sponsors.

The Hailey Bankhead Foundation, INC was designed to serve, support, and encourage a unique portion of the community that has been impacted by childhood cancer. We pledge to be with each child and family as they navigate through their own journey’s. The Hailey Bankhead Foundation, INC is committed to be the support system that families can rely on.

“Together, WE are fighting against childhood cancer.”

The Hailey Bankhead Foundation, Inc. staff and volunteers recognize the special needs and attention required for our Very Important Families. It is our goal to ensure that each child and family recognizes that they are not in this fight alone. We strive to make treatment days special. Together we will fight, one day at a time. “We have stood in their shoes, so we can provide the extra love and support that other’s may not be able to”

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