CSP Team Note: Carley Keller’s story was originally posted on Levine Children’s Hospital’s blog. We are so happy to share it with you here!
If you saw Carley Keller today, you’d see an energetic 15-year-old girl who’s as healthy as she is full of life. You’d never guess that, less than a year ago, she was a shell of the person she is now.
When Carley was 14 years old, she began having an array of symptoms, from abdominal pain to weight loss. A cheerleader with a vibrant personality, she suddenly felt tired all the time – and she just wasn’t herself. “I couldn’t even make it at school for the whole day, so I only went for half the day. And I also couldn’t cheer, which was the hardest part,” says Carley.
Carley’s mom Crecia knew something was wrong with her daughter and brought her to Levine Children’s Hospital, where Carley was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease that can affect the entire colon and causes inflammation and ulcers.
Though the diagnosis was far from easy, Carley and her family found solace in an answer. “We were in a hole for so long. We didn’t really know what was wrong, so when I got diagnosed, I was like, ‘Okay, I can probably get better. It’s going to get better from here,’” recalls Carley.
A solution, without surgery
At the time of her diagnosis, Carley’s condition was so aggressive, there was a chance she’d need surgery to have her colon removed. But fortunately, her care team found the right balance of medication and infusion to best manage her disease – without surgery.
“We were able to control her inflammation to the point that she started gaining weight, her iron levels improved – and now she’s very healthy, active and energetic,” says Victor Piñeiro, MD, the medical specialty director for the Levine Children’s pediatric and hepatology division.
Carley continues to be grateful for the care she received at Levine Children’s Hospital, home to the largest gastroenterology group in the Carolinas. And she’s especially grateful for her care team and Dr. Piñeiro, who she says always talks to her about everything and works to get the best treatment for her. “I was just so happy that we found him as a doctor,” she says.
Back and feeling great
Since her diagnosis and treatment, the Carley Keller everyone knows and loves is back – back to school full-time, back to cheerleading and back to being herself.
“I feel great! I think that I’m hopefully in remission and that I can do all the things I used to do, that I couldn’t do for a little bit,” she says. “I’m very happy with how I’m doing.”
Ulcerative colitis couldn’t stop Carley – who still got straight A’s in school through it all. And now that she’s feeling better, there’s nothing standing in her way. She hopes to one day go to Clemson University and become a dermatologist.
But first, she’s going to get her driver’s license.
For more amazing stories from Levine Children’s Hospital, click here.