Keana conquers all obstacles
KEANA BANFIELD has prevailed over more than many children her age, and now she faces a bright future.
She has overcome a near-death experience, multiple surgeries, cruelty from peers and finally the Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination which, in comparison, was easy.
Come September she will be attending Christ Church Foundation School, which is all the more impressive given what she went through to get there.
The 11-year-old was at her home in Drax Hall Plantation, St George, with her mother Kysha Banfield-Best and stepfather Douglas Best when THE NATION visited.
The brave little girl’s ordeal began on April 4, 2013, with a rash on her face.
“What started it all initially was a rash which started around her eyes and progressed from there. We sought treatment at the hospital but within a few days her lungs started to fill with fluid, her kidneys collapsed and she started to take on a lot of water and swell up . . . [which] put pressure on her heart,” Banfield-Best said during an interview in 2014.
From there, Keana came down with toxic shock syndrome and pneumonia, became dependent on a ventilator to breathe and contracted cardiomyopathy, osteoporosis and osteomyelitis, resulting in her family selling everything they owned to fund operations in Miami.
Banfield-Best said Barbados really came out in a big way to help, as well as the International Kids Wonderfund, and today all the bills were almost paid up.
However, to this day, no one knows what happened to Keana. But whatever it was, she had to have her right femur removed and replaced with surgical cement and at age 21, will also have her hip joint replaced.
Kysha Banfield-Best, Keana Banfield and Douglas Best make for a happy family, all the stronger due to the near death experience their daughter went through.
To know all this and then to meet the slim girl who went through it can be surprising. In fact, her mother said Keana continues to amaze and even scare her.
“I remember she scared the bejesus outta me when she rode a horse. You see, if she breaks any bones now, the infection may relapse, but I am the one who having all the fears – she isn’t concerned at all,” said Banfield-Best.
Indeed, Keana often asserted herself during the interview. Banfield-Best also recalled another time when her daughter put her foot down.
Back to school
“When she first went back to school [at Christ Church Girls’ School] I just had to go with her, I was so worried, until one day she told me to leave. She said she couldn’t have a life with me hovering over her and assured me she wasn’t going to suddenly have a heart attack and die – which was what I was afraid of – she has a real mouth on her,” she said affectionately.
Indeed, this bravery was apparent except twice when a cricket first flew in, later followed by a beetle, both drawn to the light. All bravery quickly melted away as Keana hastily exited the room as her parents laughed.
Watching the interaction between parents and daughter was heart-warming as the love was evident, doubtlessly made stronger because of the prolonged illness. However, there was a note of sadness and anger when they told of her trials at school upon her return.
“When I went back to school some of the children were mean,” said Keana, with her mother adding: “Initially they were all concerned but after a while some branched off – I think they were jealous. She came home crying at times but then she became hardened to it.”
Banfield-Best said her daughter consistently did well and was made an example of by the teachers as a hard worker who prevailed despite adversity, something which, she said, made the other girls jealous, causing some of them to call her nasty names.
In addition, Banfield-Best said they had to fight to get Keana into Class 4 in time for this year’s exam, which Keana wanted dearly to do.
Banfield-Best said Keana became ill in Class 1, leaving for two years. Upon her return, she resumed Class 2, behind the rest of the girls her age. She was promoted to Class 3 normally, although Banfield-Best said her daughter kept complaining the work was too easy. After threatening to pull her daughter from the school entirely, she was promoted to Class 4 early, just four weeks before the exam.
“We had two amazing tutors – Rose Whittle and Kevin Barrett – from Imperial Care who took on her case for free and were instrumental in her development. When Keana was having problems, they said we could pull Keana from the school and enter her privately as they would tutor her for the exam. This was when she finally got into Class 4,” she said.
Keana proudly recited her marks from memory: 75 per cent in maths, 85 per cent in English and a C in composition.
As for the future, Keana said she was excited to be attending Foundation and said she wanted to be a nurse one day, arguing with her mother about the virtues of becoming a doctor instead.
“I want to be a nurse because nurses help patients in the hospital and I just want to be able to help people with difficult illnesses,” she said. (CA)