GODFREY, ILL. - At St. Louis Children's hospital, visiting hours have turned into days and sometimes weeks for the Almeter family. Four-year-old Kailey Almeter has been spending almost as much time here as the doctors and nurses.
"I have to get shots," Kailey told us. "I have to get poked at the hospital."
We agreed that it was no fun.
On this day, Kailey is getting a scan of her brain. We already have a good picture of her heart.
Kailey was the Almeter's first child.
"I remember the first thing I thought was she so perfect and she's so healthy," said Amber Almeter, Kailey's mom.
But at the age of two, she had a seizure. Follow up tests revealed the worst possible news.
"They took us to a little room down the hall," Amber recalled. "And the doctor told us that Kailey had a brain tumor."
Glioblastoma was the diagnosis. An aggressive, often fatal tumor and in Kailey's case, the size of a tennis ball. Surgeons were only able to remove 60 percent of it.
"There's nothing you can do to help, relate, make her feel better and it's one of the worst feelings in the world," said Kailey's dad Joe Almeter.
As everything seemed to be falling apart it was Kailey who pulled everyone together.
"She's just the sunshine of the school," her teacher Kristy Duckels said.
There are more than 300 kids at Jerseyville West Elementary where Kailey goes to pre-school and she's always wearing the same thing. A smile.
"If anybody is ever kind of having a bad day, you spend two minutes with Kailey and it will be turned around," explained Kristie Hurley, the school Principal.
Especially if you ask about ice cream.
"My favorite kind of ice cream is chocolate!" she exclaimed. When asked if she likes strawberry, she said, "Oooh yeah!"
Because of the tumor, Kailey is now legally blind but, like her fellow students who are learning to read and write in print, she's learning to read and write in braille.
"She's so go-with-the-flow that she just kind of takes it and goes with it, "said Ms. Duckels.
None of us are promised tomorrow. The hope for Kailey is that chemotherapy and radiation will stop the tumor from growing.
"We just try to make the most out of each day," Amber said.
In one family's darkest hour, Kailey Almeter continues to be a beam of light.
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