By Kelli Kissack
Sage Ouradnik turned three on March 24, 2014. It seemed like a normal weekend on the family’s Amidon, North Dakota farm. Sage’s mom, Kelley, noticed that Sage wasn’t as active as normal, but she didn’t think much of it. She assumed the weekend’s birthday festivities and that morning’s horseback ride had worn out the normally rambunctious and spunky child. The very next day, the Ouradnik’s future changed drastically as Sage was rushed to Bismarck, North Dakota for a blood transfusion. At 3 years and 2 days old, she was diagnosed with B-Lymphoblactic Leukemia or B-ALL.
The team of doctors at the Bismarck hospital immediately began running through treatment options with Kelley and her husband, Scott. Scott and Kelley made the decision to pursue treatment at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota, and within days Sage and Kelley were in Fargo for Sage’s first round of chemo. Their road to beating cancer wasn’t easy. The family of five was separated for many weeks as Kelley and Sage stayed in Fargo for treatment while Scott, with their sons Cutter and Jett, held down the fort at home.
The days slowly dragged by, and Sage progressed through her first month of treatment. Near the thirty-day mark, and for the first time since her diagnosis, it began to look like she could go home. This marked the beginning of a long journey; one where Sage made many trips in and out of the hospital.
Sage’s family and friends always refer to her as a “fighter” and “spunky,” and it’s true. Look at the pictures of Sage during her treatment. The sparkle and light in her eyes jump off the screen. Her family attributes much of her good spirits to her animals. You see, Sage loves animals, especially horses. The family’s horse herd was a special encouragement and comfort to Sage as she fought her way through leukemia.
“She is such an inspiration to me…I thank God everyday for her being able to live on the farm, and each time she was able to come home from the hospital, the horse pen was the first place she wanted to go,” says Codi Miller, Sage’s aunt.
On August 12, 2016, after a two-year battle filled with hospital visits, chemo treatments, tears, laughs and victories, Sage rang the the bell for being cancer free. The Ouradniks and their friends held celebrations in Fargo and Bowman to rejoice in Sage’s victory. Now, several months later, Sage is in school and working on her letters. She’s also rocking her post chemo checkups.
“I have this saying framed in our house. It says, ‘Pay it forward. It's about caring and sharing. It's about compassion and kindness it's about generosity. It's about sacrifice and love. You get what you give so give good,’” says Kelley Ouradnik. “We will be paying it forward for the rest of our lives and so happy to do it.”