Kansas girl fights cancer with fairytales at Children’s Mercy

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – At just 2 and a half years old, Wichita native Norah West was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma.

For the past 6 years, she’s received regular treatments at Children’s Mercy but the experience wasn’t very welcoming to a child like Norah.

“When she first came here, she was scared of everybody,” said Norah’s mom Holly West. “She would hide under the blankets.”

Her timid nature inside the hospital led Norah to find solace in stories.

“When I heard how much she loved to tell stories, I thought it would be so fun to have a storytelling for her in the playroom,” said Children’s Mercy Child Life Specialist Jenna McCoy. “That’s how we got started with it all.”

Norah’s mom said they didn’t have a wig for her first performance because it wasn’t planned. Children’s Mercy staff grabbed a braided ponytail with flowers to clip to Norah’s “Love Your Mellon” hat.

Norah, age 8, dressed as Rapunzel. Photo by Holly West.

“I was just so speechless at first,” said Patient Activity Coordinator Sydney Shryock. “This girl has so much talent and just brings so much joy to so many people.”

From a shy 2-year-old to a budding 8-year-old filling up playrooms full of nurses and care specialists, Norah found a glimmer of light to look forward to with each treatment.

“It can be a very overwhelming and scary place,” McCoy said. “To even bring that little bit of play and fun to each of her hospital stays and have it to be something she’s excited about coming to the hospital, I feel like that’s huge.”

The ears of Children’s Mercy staff perk up when they hear her name in the halls.

“It’s kind of amazing,” McCoy said. “The minute Norah gets admitted everyone’s like, ‘Okay, when’s the princess performance?’ It’s almost standard of care.”

Norah, age 8. Photo by Holly West.

Norah doesn’t always perform alone. Music therapy student Joseph Cooper has made a few appearances on stage.

“Absolutely had no idea I would get to be a prince during my time here at Children’s Mercy,” Cooper said.

Norah acts, sings and dances her way into the hearts of all who care for her.

“Usually there’s really not a dry eye in the room,” Cooper said. “Everyone’s tearing up with happiness to see these performances and to have this joy brought into this hospital.”

Norah’s mom Holly West teared up after listening to each member of the Children’s Mercy staff talk about Norah in the highest regard, knowing her daughter is being cared for physically and emotionally.

“It means the world that they take care of her the way they do,” West said.

Norah, age 8, dressed as Snow White. Photo by Holly West.

Norah is currently in remission but receives regular treatments at Children’s Mercy to manage the cancer. Her mom said they are “cautiously optimistic” about her recovery.

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