Lifelong Vis student faces health challenges with community by her side

| Anne Fredrickson | May 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

Kally Daniewicz — Convent of the Visitation School, Mendota Heights
Parents: John and Kathleen Daniewicz
Parish: St. Pascal Baylon, St. Paul
Post-graduation plans: Study English and architecture at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles
Photo by Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Entering high school at the Convent of the Visitation in Mendota Heights, Kally Daniewicz knew she would face challenges. She expected the demands of achieving academic success, balancing activities and homework, and navigating the social opportunities that accompany the teenage years.

She didn’t, however, expect those challenges to include serious complications with her health that would impact her daily life.

Starting her freshman year, Daniewicz began experiencing health issues that included severe stomach pain that would send her to the hospital. Through the last four years, she has endured multiple hospital stays, a surgery, and visits to doctors at local clinics, Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota. Despite their best efforts, doctors have not been able to find a conclusive cause, and therefore treatment, for Daniewicz’s illness.

“It’s been very frustrating,” Daniewicz said. “It made it hard because I missed a lot of school being in the hospital, at doctor appointments or just home not feeling well. I’ve been very lucky that my teachers have been accommodating, helping me organize my schedules or giving me more time to turn in assignments.”

Daniewicz, a member of St. Pascal Baylon in St. Paul, has been a part of Visitation her entire life, starting in the baby room when she was 3 months old, and continuing her education there until her graduation this spring. She credits the Visitation community with helping her stay positive through her challenges.

“I’ve been very grateful that I was raised in a faith-filled community, because it’s been really helpful to have my faith to turn back to. Many times when I’ve wondered why this is happening to me, I’ve always been able to turn to God, to know he has a plan and is looking over me,” she said. “Also, being in community with the sisters, I know that the sisters are praying for me, even the ones in heaven. I was really close with Sister Marie Therese when I was growing up, and even though she passed away when I was a freshman, I know that she’s looking over me.”

While Daniewicz has focused on her life as a student, not her illness, she has learned valuable lessons through her experience.

“I’ve had to learn to accept that I can’t do everything on my own because I had to rely on other people,” she said. “I’ve always been pretty independent and always pushed myself to do my best, but I learned that it is OK to step back and ask for help.”

She has also learned perseverance, compassion and understanding. While she had her own health problems, her father was dealing with complications from a cancer diagnosis that has been in remission since a stem-cell transplant when Daniewicz was in middle school.

“I have more of a realization that everyone is dealing with something whether or not you know it,” she said. “I make more of an effort to reach out to others, realizing how important it is to have a connection with the people around you.”

The people around Daniewicz have been inspired by her success despite her challenges. Following her love of reading and writing, Daniewicz submitted her writing to the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and won awards for six of the seven pieces she submitted, with one of them earning a silver award at the national level. She has received multiple scholastic art awards, been a member of the track team and leadership team, served on yearbook committee and worked on the student newspaper. In addition, Daniewicz is a eucharistic ministry coordinator, was the vice president of the sophomore class and serves as a student representative to the student council. She plans to attend the University of Southern California in Los Angeles this fall to study English and architecture, and hopes to participate in a summer photography program in Italy that focuses on architecture.

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Category: Graduation