Fifteen-year-old Katelyn Hermanson, Aledo, was diagnosed with Leukemia in September 2013.
Since her diagnosis, she's endured more than 125 chemotherapy treatments and has spent countless days at St. Jude Children's Hospital in Peoria. Katelyn said her illness began with symptoms associated with the common cold. Doctors, who originally thought she had a case of bronchitis, treated her with an antibiotic. To no prevail, doctors took blood samples and found the problem.
"I just can't explain how much it overcomes you when you find out your child has cancer," Katelyn's mom Wendy Hermanson said, wiping a tear from her eye.
For the first ten months, Katelyn was receiving chemotherapy multiple times a week. She was forced to miss her sophomore year of high school.
Katelyn's fight didn't go unnoticed. A social worker at St. Jude informed Katelyn of the Make-A-Wish Foundation; Katelyn applied and was chosen.
"I was so happy and surprised," Katelyn said.
It was always Katelyn's dream to visit Hawaii. That dream was granted thanks to The Make-A-Wish and United Health Foundation.
Katelyn and her family were sent to Honolulu, Hawaii for a week, a much needed break from the chaos. During her trip, Katelyn flew on an airplane for the first time, visited Pearl Harbor and her favorite activity, swimming with dolphins.
"It was so much fun," Katelyn said, wearing a smile on her face. "I had always wanted to swim with dolphins."
Tuesday, Katelyn and her mother arrived at United Health Care in Moline, where dozens of strangers threw Katelyn her own Quad-City luau. There was punch, cake, music and Hawaii-themed decorations.
Katelyn's mom said that her prognosis looks good, but Katelyn will have to endure two more years of treatment.
Katelyn said she is ready to get back on a normal routine and go back to school this fall.