LATHROP, Mo. -- They say laughter is the best medicine, but when a 12-year-old Lathrop girl had to go into the hospital, she learned pretty quickly that a police SWAT team can have some healing powers as well.
Brittany Kistner was diagnosed with leukemia in November. She's in the beginning stages of two years of treatment, and last week she hit a wall and wouldn't eat, ending up at Children's Mercy Hospital.
"I have acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It's leukemia in my blood," explained Brittany.
If you spend five minutes with her, you can tell she's a fighter.
"That is probably one of the bravest people I know," said her mom, Jennifer Vaughn.
But Vaughn said Brittany stopped eating a week ago. Partly because of the medications, but she feared it was something more.
"It almost seemed to me like at that point she'd given up," Vaughn explained.
Doctors were concerned enough to put in a feeding tube. It was the best way to make sure her body got the nutrition she needed. While in the hospital, a group of visitors helped change her mood.
"I looked over and I see all these men filing in, and I'm like, 'I didn't do nothing,'" said Brittany.
"At first it was a little scary, and then I felt good to know these men took time to just come boost her spirits," said Vaughn.
A friend of Vaughn's is married to one of the Tactical Team members. She had read posts about Brittany on Facebook and wanted to send a care package, but didn't mention who would be delivering it.
"In that care package I got a coin," said Brittany.
It's a challenge coin, often traded and collected by officers. They mean different things to different people, but to this 12-year-old, it's a symbol of hope and strength.
"I said that coin is the reason why I got to go home, my lucky coin I take everywhere I go," said Brittany.
Brittany's mom feels the same way, that's why she took a picture and shared it on Facebook and with the police department. The visit showed a different side to the officers, one of compassion and caring, one Vaughn says not too many people get to or care to see.
"It was kind of emotional because you could tell by looking at some of them, it was all they could do to not shed a tear," said Vaughn.