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Meet Kyia Agee, normal teenager
Kyia Agee
Kyia Agee with Shadow. Agee, a senior at Richmond Hill High School, has a rare brain tumor but her prognosis is good. She plans on studying early childhood education at Georgia Southern and becoming a teacher because, “the world needs more good teachers,” like some she’s had at RHHS, she said. Photo provided.

Richmond Hill High School senior Kyia Agee has a rare form of childhood cancer known as juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, but it hasn’t stopped her from being what she called a “normal teenage girl.”

Agee, who likes horseback riding and spaghetti and plans to become a teacher after she graduates from Georgia Southern, was one of two children honored during a February for CURE Childhood Cancer fundraiser in Richmond Hill.

More recently, Agee agreed to do an email interview about her battle with cancer. Here’s a slightly edited version of the interview.

BCN: First, please introduce yourself.

KA: I’m Kyia, and I’m 18 and about to graduate from Richmond Hill High School. My parents are Daniel and Kristen Agee and I have two younger brothers, Tristan, 14, and Reese, 13.

BCN: Who are your heroes? 

KA: My Dad, my Mom and my neurosurgeon, Dr. Willard Thompson 

BCN: How old were you when your cancer was diagnosed?

KA: I was diagnosed at 13 years old. 

BCN: Was your family living in Richmond Hill at the time?

KA: Yes, we were living in Richmond Hill. 

BCN: Who made the diagnosis?

KA: My awesome neurosurgeon, Dr. Thompson.

BCN: Is there any insight into what caused the cancer?

KA: There is no insight medically. I am currently still under a Tumor Board with follow up care from Dr Willard Thompson (neurosurgeon) and Dr Ashley Eason (oncologist).

BCN: How did your diagnosis impact your family’s daily life?

KA: It changed everything. We had to learn how to adapt to me being in the hospital for a month, then learn everything about living life in a wheel chair (there’s a lot that goes into that with learning how to open doors, go down curbs, transferring in and out of the chair, and making sure I didn’t get pressure wounds from sitting too long), going through a second very invasive surgery, and then adapting to life during Chemo. We do things differently now and just appreciate life a whole lot more.

BCN: How did the news of your diagnosis impact your parents?

KA: It was absolutely devastating! My mom was alone when I collapsed out of bed, my dad was out of town with the military and just rushing through his tests to get home to be with us. Just hearing that your child has a mass compressing your child’s spinal cord and the neurosurgeon is on his way here NOW literally right after an MRI, is just terrifying. They were unsure about everything but their main concern was me.

BCN: How does your cancer impact your ability to do things you want to?

KA: It limits my mobility. It has made it so hard for me to do things that comes natural to others, small things a lot of people have taken for granted.

BCN: Has anyone else in your family had cancer?

KA: Yes! My maternal grandfather passed away before I was born from Small Cell Lung Cancer, my paternal grandmother had kidney cancer and lung cancer, and is in remission, thank goodness. And my Aunt (dads sister) has bone cancer and breast cancer and is still fighting hard!

BCN: What is your prognosis? 

KA: My prognosis is good. My tumor will always be there and have to be monitored, because they can’t just remove it and there’s just not enough research into juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma for there to be a cure. Hopefully one day there will be!

BCN: What is your day-to- day life like?

KA: Well, I am a normal teenage girl. I like to read, stay in my room, watch Netflix, and then I go to school and work at the After School Program during the week.

BCN: What is it about horseback riding (or perhaps horses) that you enjoy? Do you compete or want to compete?

KA: Just spending time with them is a good outlet, you feel free when you’re riding them. I would love to compete one day!

BCN: What does your treatment consist of?

KA: Thankfully, I am done with treatment. March 14 was my last Physical Therapy session! I’ve had two debulking surgeries, a spinal fusion, and did a year of Chemo Therapy every Wednesday that consisted of Vinblastine.

BCN: You plan on attending Georgia Southern and studying teaching. Why do you want to teach?

KA: The world needs more good teachers, the kids deserve good teachers. And I’ve had some amazing teachers throughout my schooling that have really impacted my decision to go into Early Childhood Education, like Ms. Amy Lewis and Ms. Laura Gross at Richmond Hill High School.

BCN How has CURE Childhood Cancer helped you and your family beyond funding research?

KA: They have provided counseling services for my family as well as support to help my brothers and I deal with my diagnosis and how to talk to people about it. They have fed us during treatment days, celebrated with us for birthdays and honored us at Shell Out for a Cure. They’ve provided us a family and support system that just feels safe and they understand how differently we not only view life now, but how we view the world in general.

Six questions with Kyia

1. Favorite food? Spaghetti.

2. Favorite book? That’s a hard one. I have a favorite book series, The Selection Series by Kiera Cass.

3. Favorite holiday? Christmas, of course.

 4. Favorite kind of music and artist/ Country music. Thomas Rhett and Luke Combs. 

5. Favorite TV show? Free Rein.

 6. If you could have a conversation with anyone in history, who would it be? I’ve never thought about that one! Rosa Parks!

Kyia in her prom dress. Photos provided.
Kyia in her prom dress. Photos provided.
Kyia's family
From left, are Debby Daniel, Kyia’s grandmother; Jena Daniel, Kyia’s aunt; with Tristan, Kyia, Reese, Kristen and Daniel Agee.
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