Community celebrates Libby Kimbel’s final chemo session
By PAMELA GRANT
For nine minutes, car after car, motorcycle after motorcycle honked their horns and revved their engines, cheering loudly as they rode past the house of Libby Kimbel, a young Copperas Cove girl who is celebrating the completion of her chemo treatments.
“It was fun. I loved it!” said Libby Kimbel who was all smiles, blowing kisses, clapping, and cheering along throughout the procession. “It felt good seeing my friends and my teachers.”
At only 14 years old, Libby was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that grows in the bones or the soft tissue around bones. It is the second most common type of bone cancer in children, but it is still very rare.
Libby and her family thought that she had sprained or otherwise injured her right leg and took her in for a diagnosis at McLane’s Children’s Hospital where they were shocked when the doctors told her that she had cancer. Libby said that they just blurted it out leaving her feeling mad, sad, and confused. Her mother, Cheri Kimbel, said that her first response was to break down and cry, but she quickly gathered herself together to make sure that she was able to be strong for her daughter.
Libby’s treatments included aggressive chemotherapy which caused her to lose her hair, followed by a lower leg amputation in January.
“It was hard. It was scary and overwhelming,” said Libby who had her share of ups and downs, though she has remained largely positive despite everything.
“Her spirit was so high,” said Cheri Kimbel. “She just brought people to her.”
The Kimbels recounted how every time they were at the hospital, all the nurses and even members of the cleaning staff stopped by to say hi and greet Libby who said that she loved having those conversations. Even though Libby hated going to the hospital, it was also a positive place. Her mother said it was like having another community, a home away from home.
Libby’s family made sure that they stayed positive and kept their daughter surrounded by as much positivity as possible.
“I’m just a happy cookie,” said Libby. “Even when I had my hard days and didn’t feel good, I just didn’t let it bring me down.”
Libby had a few words to say to encourage others going through the same situations.
“If you’re having a bad day, pray about it, listen to your favorite song, or stay strong and stay positive, surround yourself with good people and things will get better soon,” encouraged Libby about fighting off the bad times. “Kick it to the curb and don’t let it get to you.”
Now, nine months later, she has completed all of her chemo treatments and has the rest of her life to look forward to.
“I’m mainly looking forward to getting my hair back,” grinned Libby.
Her father, Ryan Kimbel, a member of Iron Horse Disciples, a motorcycle group, gathered many fellow motorcycle enthusiasts and Julie Moser, founder and Executive Director of the Pink Warrior Angels of Texas (PWA) invited members of the community to participate in the drive-by as well.
“Our community is pretty awesome,” said Moser, “We’re excited to help this wonderful family.”
Moser said that it was important to help out the family because the Kimbels have all been through so much. She said that, like the Kimbels, she wouldn’t ask for help on her own journey. However, there were those that stepped up and helped anyway, and it always brought a huge sense of relief and was greatly appreciated. She hopes to do the same for the Kimbels.
“Libby had her treatments and everything, the majority of it through COVID which meant no friends hanging out with her at the hospital, no friends hanging out at her house…it was just mom, dad, and the people who live with her,” said Moser. “She had it probably twice as bad…Mentally it’s tough anyway…It’s important that Libby knows that she’s loved and appreciated.”
Moser said that Libby has been very strong throughout everything, calling her the bubbliest, happiest person that she knows.
Libby still has a long journey ahead of her, but with her strong, positive attitude, nobody who truly knows her has any doubt that she will make it through, still smiling at the other end.
The Pink Warrior Angels of Texas also set up a fundraising campaign to help out the Kimbels. They are trying to raise at least $1,200 to help repair the van that they use to transport Libby and her wheelchair. As of Saturday, they have raised $375.
Anyone interested in helping out or learning more about Libby’s journey can visit to https://bit.ly/TeamLibby.