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Cluttering the tabloids with her love life, Taylor Swift is often only known for her latest beau or her latest hit on the radio. However, thanks to her most recent act of kindness, 17-year old cancer patient Kayla Kincannon’s life got a little bit brighter: Kayla’s wish to meet Taylor Swift came true January 19, 2013.
In Kayla’s hometown in Michigan, her friends at Lamphere High School, team rivals at Warren Mott High School, and countless Twitter and Facebook users caught the Swift’s attention by sharing “Operation get Kayla to meet Taylor Swift” so often it made a list of top 10 trending topics - so much so that Swift and her mother dined with the Kincannon family on Saturday January 19 for a Spaghetti Factory lunch in Nashville, Tennessee.
“She said it’s a place where guys took girls on fancy dates when she was in high school,” Kayla gushed. “It was so cool to hang out at a place memorable to her, and I felt like I was talking to a best friend.”
Kayla was admitted to the hospital with a severe headache and vomiting on her 16th birthday, which was December 22, 2011. She learned she had brain cancer the next day. Doctors removed 30 percent of a tumor during a 4-hour surgery, and scheduled her for radiation and chemo pills five times a week. However, a month later a disappointing brain scan showed the tumor had grown back to its original size, forcing Kayla to begin an IV chemo treatment.
For a few months the tumor was stable; then in December 2012, Kayla learned there was another tumor that could have been caused by radiation damage.
Facing another upsetting December, Kayla’s friends and even strangers from rival schools united to give her the best gift they could. They began tweeting in full force about her hope to meet Taylor Swift.
On January 17th, when Kayla and her mom were walking into a doctor’s appointment, they got a call from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which had been trying to arrange a backstage meeting for Kayla. Taylor Swift had contacted them directly, something that never happens – and later that same day, Taylor Swift’s mother called the Kincannon’s directly.
Kayla and her father proceeded with their plan to fly to Tennessee on the morning of January 18th for an appointment at St. Jude. That afternoon, Swift arranged for Kayla’s mother and brother, Josh, 12, to fly out first class and join them.
After a long lunch at the Spaghetti Factory, Swift’s tour bus driver drove the Kincannons back to their hotel two hours away. Kayla was treated to a huge gift basket from Swift, which included CDs, DVDs, T-shirts, jewelry, perfume, and much more.
Kayla states that the entire experience “was all a blessing,” and that she is thankful for all the students, teachers and strangers who helped her wish come true.
After meeting with experts from Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina, the Burzynski Clinic, Texas, and points in between, the Kincannons have decided to heed the advice of the St. Jude doctors and hold off on any further treatment for Kayla at this point in time, and continue hoping for the best.
While most media tends to focus on the bland, insipid, and sometimes tasteless actions of celebrities, stories like this deserve the bigger headlines – Taylor Swift brightening a cancer patient’s day could possibly be an even bigger accomplishment than any of her Grammy-nominated music.