The memory and love for a 6-year-old girl is helping others reach their dreams and heal through light
Tyler Ryan learns the story of Kensley Fuller and her lasting memory through healing loss
COLUMBIA SC (WOLO)– Shortly after getting married some 15 years ago, Sean and Jillian Fuller learned they were going to expand their family, but it wasn’t meant to be, as they lost the child due to a miscarriage. The couple then made the decision to plan, and try again – and they were successful. It wasn’t long before they were again planning to expand their family – and this time not by child, but two.
“On November 1, 2016, Kensley and Jack Fuller came into the world,” smiles a proud Sean Fuller, a general practice doctor in Irmo.
Jillian and Sean immediately wrapped their whole world around the twins. “They were both very happy,” says Jillian, “we did a lot of things together…” The twins where, however, as much different as they were alike. Jack, an outgoing fun-love little boy, and Kensley, a bit more reserved, but “a sponge” when it came to learning.
She always seemed highly intelligent, not only by early speech, but the understanding she seemed to show in things that are considered very complex concepts.
In fact, according to the Fullers, it was at two years old that Kensley decided on a career path. “Her desire to gain knowledge about medicine was uncanny,” says Sean, pointing out that her dream was to be a doctor – but not quite like her father. “Oh no,” she would say, “my daddy is just a family practice doctor. I will be a cardio-thoracic surgeon.”
By all accounts, Kensley was a happy healthy six year old, on her way to medial halls of fame, but in May of 2013, that all changed. According to the Fullers, over the course of a weekend, Kensley got sick and short of breath. It wasn’t long before they found themselves at the Palmetto Children’s Hospital. Every test possible was run on the little girl, and over the following weeks there were ups and downs in her condition.
Ultimately, Kensley was transferred to MUSC, where even more extensive tests and treatments were pursued. Although they Fullers were committed to giving all they had in more in order to save their young daughter, fate had other plans.
“On July 19, 2013…it’s when we lost her,” Jillian says with the quivering voice you would expect from a mother who had to say goodbye to her little girl.
Since Kensley’s passing, the Fullers have worked to find a “normal” again, loving Jack, and even giving birth to another baby girl, Shipley Sue.
Although it has been several years since Kensley’s passing, her presence is felt all over their house and in their collective hearts. Pictures of the family, drawings she made, and even a message box where friends and family can write memories sprinkle their home.
They also have founded another way to keep her dream alive, through the work of others who may otherwise have to give up the opportunity to practice medicine due to the cost. There is no doubt that becoming a doctor takes a lot of work, passion, and commitment. For many medical students, however, it also takes a lot of loans.
According to the USC School of Medicine’s Executive Dean Dr. Les Hall, a year of education, including tuition, fees, and rent can top $70,000 a year. When you cost factor four years of school, the debt load can top $200,000 before a new doctor earns a dime.
Dr. Hall says that the majority of the students at the school are on some sort of financial aid, and concern over money can often weigh heavy on the head and heart of a student focused on the rigors of the school itself.
Three years ago, the Fullers created a foundation, and the Kensley Fuller Scholarship, which provides finance assistance to one deserving student and their journey through medical school. The assistance, that is made in the form of a gift, helps offset some of the costs of living, and reducing the overall debt a student faces when they graduate and begin their residency.
Jillian and Sean have found a unique way for the community to support Kensley’s dream, as well as honor one of their loved ones. According to Jillian, for $20, a bulb on a christmas tree, which stands in the courtyard of the Medical School campus, can be purchased. The donation will be made in the honor of a loved one, who’s name will be read on Thursday evening at special tree lighting ceremony.
“All the names will be read,” says Jillian, who feels it will help heal to hear a loved ones name, share memories, and share the loss.
If you would like to purchase a tree bulb in memory of a loved one, please check out this LINK.
You can learn more about the Fuller Family Foundation and the Kensley Fuller Scholarship Fund HERE.