Mother fighting cancer shares message with ‘Kayla’s Crew’

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OMAHA — A new mother fighting cancer is encouraging others to be thankful for what they have this holiday season.

Kayla Hebenstreit was diagnosed with cancer just a few months after she and her husband started dating. Doctors found a tumor in her hip. Three separate times she battled cancer and beat it.

Around Christmas last year Kayla and her husband, Joe, learned they were pregnant.

“Typically, she was getting scans every three months,” Joe said. “Once she became pregnant, scans were no longer an option.”

Kendall Grace was born on Sept. 12 — healthy and beautiful.

But one month later, the Hebenstreits learned the cancer was back and this time inoperable.

“They gave her about a year to live,” Joe said. “But that’s something we’re not accepting and we’re doing everything we can to keep fighting.”

Every three weeks Kayla spends six straight days at the Nebraska Medical Center getting around the clock chemotherapy. Joe and Kendall visit for bottles and kisses — special moments together.

Every day Kayla writes to her daughter in a book.

“Just how many people love her in her life,” Kayla said of the things she writes. “Little things she does that she’ll want to look back on. And how much I love her.”

Kayla has thousands of supports across the country, members of Kayla’s Crew. And Kayla has a special message for them: thank you, and cherish the time you have.

It’s just a good time of year to be thankful for what you have,” she said. “Don’t take anything for granted.