Kaitlyn is being featured as one of the many heroes in the
52 Essential Inclusion Skills Card Deck
An A to Z Guide to Kindness, Compassion, and Respect for Diverse Abilities. Ships May 31st.
LEVEL 1: AWARENESS. Redefine "normal" to reduce unfounded fears, biases, and misconceptions.
LEVEL 2: ALLYSHIP. Actionable inclusion skills and strategies to embrace the differences in all of us. Move from sympathy to empathy. Lip service to real kindness.
LEVEL 3: ADVOCATE. Concrete tips on how to advocate for yourself and for others. Each card features children and adult heroes living with different illnesses and unique abilities. Learn how to speak up for yourself and represent the under-represented by sharing your story.
Kaitlyn Rose Bernhardt, Forever 15
(12/20/02-6/15/18), Metastatic Osteosarcoma
How would you explain Osteosarcoma to a child?
Osteosarcoma (also called osteogenic sarcoma) is the most common type of cancer that starts in the bones. The cancer cells in these tumors look like early forms of bone cells that normally help make new bone tissue, but the bone tissue in an osteosarcoma is not as strong as that in normal bones.
What did it look like to live with Osteosarcoma?
Kaitlyn was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her tibia on September 2, 2016, as she was entering her freshman year of high school at the age of 13. She had pain while trying out for the volleyball team. She had major surgeries which she handled like a champion. She had many toxic treatments and radiation, but the cancer took over most of her body. She always smiled in the face of adversity.
What brought Kaitlyn joy?
Kaitlyn found joy in love. She loved to cuddle with her mom Jennifer, her dad Rob, her little sister Ella, her younger brother Robert, and her dog Maggie. Kaitlyn surrounded herself with soft and cozy blankets and stuffed animals. She had a gentle heart and kind heart, and a pure soul. She always wanted to give back to others. She was selfless, even when very sick, and stayed strong and smiled as much as she could while she battled this ferocious cancer to simply provide comfort to those around her, to those who loved her, and were so afraid of losing her. Kaitlyn’s kindness emanated out of her fragile body to the very end. She had nothing but love to give. Love doesn’t end and her mother and family are dedicated to keeping her memory going. Kaitlyn’s mother Jennifer and her family have created the Be Kind For Kaitlyn Foundation, Inc.
In her memory to ensure her legacy for kindness is eternal. The Foundation holds multiple fundraisers each year in Kaitlyn’s honor, and raises donations for scholarships and to give back to sick children. Members of the Catholic community were so touched by Kaitlyn’s spirituality and grace, that a school, grotto, and boarding home were established in India for children in need in her memory. The Dalit children pray to Kaitlyn every day. The list of giving back goes on and on, and we know Kaitlyn is with her family along the journey of giving back as that was so important to her.
More things she did to keep her spirits up: She prayed a lot, spent time with her cousins and family, enjoyed time with her grandparents, did art projects, experimented with makeup and styling, listened to music (especially Harry Styles), and she loved singing.