Carly was born May 24, 1991, she was a writer at Douglas Anderson High School and planned to open her own venue – a coffee house to have shows, poetry readings, plays, etc. She always brought a smile to every face. She left a lasting impression on whoever met her, saw her, or even just heard about her. She meant so much to so many people, and her love spread far in her 19 years of abundant life.
We discovered her illness after she returned from the New Jersey Writers Festival in late September 2008. It was a school trip she had won after writing and binding a poetry book by herself (the book is awesome). After complaining of not feeling well, we took her to the doctor and the diagnosis was strep throat and mononucleosis. By mid December 2008 her left eye socket started to protrude. We took her to three doctors – all of them said it was allergies and gave her eye drops with a steroid in it. In late January 2009, we went to an eye institute where they ordered an MRI. Her next appointment was with an ENT doctor who thought it was Fungal Sinusitis, but when they went in to remove it on February 9, 2009, the doctor discovered it was a tumor.
Carly was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a cancer of the soft tissue, most commonly found in children. Though the news struck her heavily, she was determined to move forward, fight hard, and move past this to continue with the long life she had ahead. Carly fought day in and day out, battling vigorous chemotherapy treatments, radiation, surgeries, exams, medication, and the overall stress and toll this takes on one’s body.
She endured more as a young 18-year-old girl than most grown men would be willing to confront. She did it with a smile, and a heart as big as the universe.
Always concerned with her loved ones, she pressed on, showing determination, perseverance, and genuine hope. After being told time and time again that she had little time left on this earth – in November 2009, the doctors claimed Carly had two weeks to two months left – Carly proved them all wrong by holding on for longer than anyone predicted.
Carly began 2010 with a celebration in New York City. The time period provided by the doctor’s was running short, but she had no intention of quitting the fight. In May 2010, Carly celebrated her 19th birthday, a day that her doctors had said she would not see. She celebrated the day with an excitement for life – a shining example and a true miracle.
Carly fought her brave fight for nearly two years, and was finally laid to rest on September 9, 2010. She may be gone, but she is now and will always be far from forgotten. Carly taught her friends, family, and many more the true meaning of determination and love. She fought even until her last day with character, personality, compassion, and belief. Carly believed strongly that if she were to leave this world, she would be in Heaven above, saving a place for each person she loves.
The love her many friends had for her led them to want to do something in her memory. So Carly Fest was created…
Carly Fest was created to help young adults with Cancer fulfill their dreams by helping them attend College through The Nicki Leach Foundation. Visit NickiLeach.org to learn more about how this organization helps young adults that are going through this same journey.
There have been four Carly Fest so far and in those four years we have been able to donate $20K to Young Children and Young Adults with Cancer, through St. Judes and The Nicki Leach Foundation.