“You look at her, and you see a normal 15-year-old girl.”
But Sophomore Kadence Wood is a lot more unique than she appears at first glance. She was diagnosed as a Type One Diabetic when she was just 8 years old, and as of last year, has been further diagnosed with Wolfram Syndrome – a disease that affects one in over 500,000 people.
“There are less than 200 cases in the US,” Kadence’s mom, Kimberly Wood, said in an interview with Sapulpa Times earlier this week.
Wood, surrounded by her “YaYa Sisters,” Jackie Howard, Nikkie Lloyd, and Heidi Watson, recounted the debilitating nature of the disease.
“What Wolfram Syndrome does is it causes the body pretty much to attack itself, and so organs shut down,” Wood said, adding that it started with her pancreas, and now the disease is attacking her large intestines and now her eyes, rendering her completely colorblind.
Wood says that the challenge has been finding someone with personal experience to be able to advise them on how to proceed with treatment. “Kadence sees an endocrinologist an ophthalmologist, a neurologist, a geneticist. I mean you name a specialist, she sees them. Not one of these people has ever dealt with someone with Wolfram. Not one.”
Finally, they found a doctor in St. Louis that had the experience they were looking for. “People come from all over the world to be treated by him,” Wood said. Because he literally has no other patient that is so close, the doctor offered his services to Kadence for free.
Wood says their insurance covers visits to specialists. The lab work, however, is not free.
“The first blood test to be done was $1,000. That’s one blood test,” Wood said. “And for each case study, there’s different lab work that has to be done, so [the doctor’s] doing his part pro bono, but outside of him, which are the labs, or if there’s like there’s a pair of glasses that are $2,000 or other equipment that can help her, that’s all expensive.”
Cruise for Kadence
To help cover the fees involved for things like blood work, lab tests and special equipment, Woods’ “YaYa Sisters” have rallied around her to help raise money through benefits and donations. Woods says their involvement has been a blessing. “These three women just like jumped in and said, ‘We need to do this, and let’s make it happen,’ and I’ve really been able to sit back and concentrate on my daughter.”
They’ve also arranged for t-shirts and facemasks made by Isabella’s Collection and custom tumblers made by Oh Dear Creations to be made available for order. Those interested in ordering a “Team Kadence” T-Shirt or tumbler can visit Studio One Salon at 106 E. Dewey, or email Kimberly at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a fund at American Heritage Bank under Team Kadence that people can donate to.
On Friday the 19th is a “Cruise for Team Kadence,” starting at the courthouse at 7 PM, visitors can see a small car bike show and Kandence will show up in a convertible. From there, the cruise will run to Autozone, and to the Ice Box at the corner of Taft and Main. Each of these stops will have fans of Team Kadence and buckets available for donations. Jimmy Whinery, who runs a Facebook Group for “Sapulpa 90s Kids” is running that event and promises they “won’t be hard to find.”
“We wanted to do something really big, and now that this girl has a whole team behind her, we’re hoping the whole town will come out and support Kadence,” Whinery said.
A spaghetti dinner is planned for July 11th at the Sapulpa Elks Lodge, as well.
“Wood girls are warriors.”
During her interview with Sapulpa Times, mom Kimberly Wood talked about the strength her daughter has, and how she’s handled it since she was first diagnosed at 8 years old.
“She was 8 years old and being injected like six times a day with a needle, and she’s scared of needles, so she was like, ‘why’d this happen?’ and so I told her that ‘God gives His hardest battles to His strongest warriors, and Wood girls are warriors.’” Wood said the answer satisfied her. “It was the only time in all this she ever asked me, ‘Why?’”
Wood said that finding out seven years later that Kadence had Wolfram Syndrome took her to a dark place and made her angry with God, until one day, when she talked to Kadence about it. “I took her into the kitchen one day, after we’d gone to see a specialist and asked her, ‘do you have any questions about this?’ and she said ‘Don’t you remember? You told me that God gives His hardest battles to His strongest warriors. We’ve got this.’”
Wood said everything changed at that moment. “I hit my knees. That was it.”
Wood called Kadence “the strongest damn 15-year-old I’ve ever laid eyes on,” and says that she tries hard to live a normal life. “She’s a good kid. She sings she plays guitar…I mean, she loves life, she really does.”
She pulled up a picture that Kandence drew for her on Mother’s Day—a picture of her mom holding her when she was little, in a field full of flowers. Because Kadence is colorblind, she had to get her brother to help her with the colors.“ The picture radiates color, and you’d never know that it was drawn by a girl who could only see shades of gray. “She is not the disease,” Wood said. “She doesn’t let it define her at all. ‘One day at a time’ has become our family motto. We don’t take any of it for granted.”