Hearts melted earlier this week when this heartwarming video starring a young cancer patient and her nurse became a viral phenomenon. The video stars Kamryn, a 7-year-old battling kidney cancer and her patient care associate Tom Shelley, who is a former Penn Stater and avid THONer. The pair lip syncs to the popular tune “Love is an Open Door” from “Frozen.” What started as a simple way to cheer Kamryn up during a trip to the hospital for a blood transfusion soon gained national attention when Kamryn’s mother and biggest supporter, Andrea Slater, uploaded the video to her Facebook page on July 3.
Kamryn is currently undergoing treatment for a Wilm’s Tumor, which Tom explains is a form of kidney cancer. Kamryn was diagnosed in April when she first began to complain of a bad stomachache. Unfortunately, the tumor could not easily be removed because it ruptured, and Kamryn began treatment. Although the chemotherapy causes nausea and fevers, Kamryn’s spirits remain high. “Regardless of how sick she is feeling, she is still in the most positive and crazy mood all the time,” Tom says.
One of Kamryn’s favorite past times? Giving Nurse Tom a hard time.
“I’ve stopped asking her if she needs anything before I leave the room because she’s made it her goal to come up with the craziest ideas,” he explained, “although, I must say, I always follow through.” The other day she casually requested a jewelry box with lady bugs on it. Within an hour, Tom somehow crafted a jewelry box covered with lady bug stickers.
Tom credits his experiences with THON in part for his ability to connect with his patients. Tom started out as a THON captain at Penn State York, and moved on to a Morale committee when he transferred to University Park. During THON 2012 he was the Beverages Captain for Hospitality, and in his final year, THON 2013, he served as the CCSG Liaison Captain for Morale.
“I was very close with many of the Four Diamonds families during my years in THON, and that closeness gave me such an advantage in the hospital, because it allowed me to see things through their eyes,” he explained.
Tom’s love of THON began when he first joined Penn State. “When I was younger my brother passed away from a freak accident while working, and since that day, I’ve always longed for some way to give back,” he shared.
THON gave him the perfect outlet to do just that. He carried this passion over to his work at Albany Medical Center, where he met Kamryn.
Through their time together at the hospital and their experience with newfound fame, Kamryn and Tom have grown especially close. “Kamryn and I, and her parents, Andrea and Zach, have gotten to know each other very well. Almost too well,” Tom laughed.
During a recent interview he began sniffing the air and joked that Kamryn must have farted. Without missing a beat, the 7-year-old simply replied, “yep.”
Their bond is, of course, strengthened by their love of the movie “Frozen.” While Kamryn insists that Anna is the star of the movie, Tom disagrees. Through and through, he’s an Olaf fan.
Today, Kamryn is still undergoing treatment. However, since the video went viral, her fundraising page, #TeamKamryn, has raised $17,350 and has sold 1,235 #TeamKamryn shirts. Kamryn is preparing to begin another 15 weeks of chemotherapy, but she’s excited to spend some time at home.
“I’m looking forward to going home and snuggling with my little kitty,” Kamryn told Albany News 10 ABC.