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'Little warrior' fights for her life

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | December 4, 2020 1:00 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — Shortly before Thanksgiving, Kyrah O’Brien wasn’t feeling well. She complained about pain in her arms and legs. Ibuprofen didn’t help, and neither did rest.

So, the 12-year-old from Coeur d’Alene was taken to the doctor’s office, where they did some blood work.

Last Friday, her dad, Kyle O’Brien, received the results: She had cancer.
 Kyrah, described as “a shining light to many and loved by everyone,” was rushed to Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children's Hospital.

"It was a shock, to say the least," he said Thursday. "You never expect to end up in a place like this.”

Saturday, her father was told Kyrah had precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells.

Kyle said it was hard to tell his daughter about the diagnosis, and explain what she was up against.

But the former wrestler said he did his best to not show how scared he really is, and reminded Kyrah that she is from a family of fighters.

Kyle said she was “very resolute and confident.”

"We're going to beat this," she told her dad.

Fortunately, doctors say they caught it early and it is treatable, but she is far from in the clear.

Kyrah underwent her first round of targeted chemotherapy Tuesday night and handled it well, her father said. She's been feeling better.

"We soak in the good days when we get them," he said.


A fundraiser is underway on the GoFundMe website, with a goal of $30,000, to help the family.

"Prayers for healing and strength during your cancer journey," wrote donor Heather Huber.

David Taylor wrote that he donated "because cancer sucks … and I have two kids and a wife and would hope others would pay it forward. God bless the girl."

The family moved to Coeur d’Alene in 2018.

There remain unknowns — both medically and financially — ahead.

Kyrah was described as a “little warrior, daughter, granddaughter, big sister and friend to many people who love her to the ends of the Earth,” but also someone who has already suffered the loss of a little brother, great grandparents and her mom.

Kyle, born and raised in Libby, Mont., said the support for Kyrah has made a difference and she might be able to come home today until her next round of chemo.

“The next few weeks and months are going to be extremely difficult but she has a strong family who will stop at nothing to see her through to victory,” Howard said.

Friends are promoting, #KyrahStrong.

Kyle O'Brien, a communications lineman, said his daughter underwent her first blood transfusion on Monday.

He encouraged people to donate blood because they are saving lives.

“When you’re the dad sitting in the chair, and your daughter is getting someone else’s blood, that person really is a hero,” he said.