Middle School

#LaceyStrong : Florida 8th Grader Faces Cancer with Bravery, Optimism, and Kindness

By Janene Ritchie

The Imagine Schools – Chancellor Campus in Boynton Beach, FL has been a Partner School since 2016. Due  to the many unexpected challenges their school, and the rest of the country faced amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the school chose Bravery as the focus of the newly established P2 Graduation Award.  This award is given to an 8th grade student who demonstrates and inspires others to live out the Other People Matter Mindset. The first recipient, Lacey, exemplifies her own bravery as she faces serious medical challenges.

In the weeks before the pandemic took hold of the world, Lacey hadn’t been feeling well – she was tired, having a hard time eating, and she began having blurred vision and numbness in her arm. Her parents, Kim and Chris, were understandably concerned, but thought it must be dehydration from a cold or the flu and took her in for a simple doctor’s visit.

After scans and tests, on top of the doctors concern,  Lacey and her family received the devastating news that she had a tumor the size of a lemon on her brain. From there, things began moving quickly, and Lacy had an extensive 12-hour surgery the day before her 14th birthday. Not knowing whether she’d wake up to celebrate another birthday, her family spent an agonizing day hoping for the best. Thankfully, she made it through the surgery. 

Although the surgeon was hopeful to have removed the tumor, Lacey’s battle is just beginning. There is a significant chance that it will return and she is now undergoing radiation treatments to combat an aggressive form of brain cancer called Anaplastic Ependymoma.

“Cancer may have started the fight, but I will finish it!”

“Her bravery, hope, optimism, and perseverance are unbelievable! She said ‘I’m going to kick cancers butt!’ (She is) a remarkable 14-year-old who inspires us to remember to smile, face your fears with determination, and stay strong on tough days,” says Lacey’s family. She and her parents are especially grateful for Dr. Mittal at Bethesda Hospital East for pushing hard to find answers for Lacey and connecting her to her current cancer team at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Miami Cancer Institute.

We agree that Lacey is an outstanding recipient of Imagine – Chancellor’s first P2 Graduation award, not just for her bravery, but also for her optimism, perseverance, and kindness. Academic Coach, Victoria Brown, shared this story about Lacey: “With everything she is going through, she is still smiling and thinking of others, truly living out the Other People Matter Mindset – she even brought special treats for the workers at the Miami hospital where she gets her radiation treatments.”

Lacey delivering sweet treats to her treatment team in Miami.

We are proud to have Lacey and her family as part of the P2 family, and we send them our love and strength as they face this challenge together. Lacey’s family would like to reiterate the importance of pediatric cancer research, as there is very little support for it currently. Kim, Lacey’s mom, is working on a business plan for a non-profit to raise much-needed funds for pediatric cancer research and to bring joy to families who are going through similar experiences.

In the meantime, if you’d like to contribute to Lacey’s medical expenses and expenses for her family as they travel to support her through her treatments, please click here

Janene Ritchie
P2 Content Manager

Janene Ritchie is the Content Manager for The Positivity Project. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology from Ohio State University, and dual Masters in Environmental Education and Outdoor Leadership from Ohio University. She spent 10 years in the outdoor and environmental education field, including 3 years as the director of a residential environmental learning center that used outdoor experience to teach a rigorous science curriculum. Janene is also a certified Forest Therapy Guide and Trail Certification consultant. She lives in Vancouver, WA with her husband and two children, where they enjoy exploring the mountains and forests of the Pacific Northwest.