Almost four years ago, Keana Banfield made headlines when she was in dire need of medical assistance.
At the tender age of eight, she came down with a mysterious illness which eventually became life threatening, affecting her lungs, heart and her ability to walk. She underwent numerous surgeries and, thankfully, lived to tell the tale and inspire millions. Her inspirational story tugged at the heartstrings and encouraged many back then, and is still doing so to this day.
As many eager and excited 11-year-olds were heading into first form at their new schools on Monday, Keana was simply thankful that she could walk through the doors of Christ Church Foundation School (CCFS).
Still in her uniform, she greeted Barbados TODAY with a broad smile when a team arrived at her home yesterday evening. She said she was starting to settle in nicely and getting used to the new environment.
“My day was good and it was also very funny. I was able to make some new friends and get to know my teachers and classmates a bit better. It’s still kind of strange, but it was not as bad as it was yesterday. I was still nervous and kind of in a corner,” Keana said shyly.
She is more than thankful for that opportunity to make friends and, as she put it, “do normal things that kids do”.
Keana told Barbados TODAY there were times while she was hospitalized that she thought about the possibility she would not get a chance to do those things.
“I used to think about all the things I would be missing out on in school or all the work that I wouldn’t get to do, or meeting new friends, or not being able to socialize with anyone but the doctors and nurses,” she reflected.
But if there was one thing she took away from her illness it was that “you have to push yourself very hard. You also have to maintain the balance between being a child and making important decisions.”
So just how did this well-spoken young lady catch up after missing two years of primary school as she battled illness and near-death experiences?
“Hardcore lessons,” Keana said. “I had to go lessons every day. I had to study every single day. Because I was working so hard, I barely got to sleep, I barely got to have fun doing simple things like watching TV or playing with my brother and sister. But the hard work paid off and I am thankful,” the eloquent 11-year-old said.
She admits that CCFS wasn’t her first pick for secondary school, but “my mom was telling me about it and how most of my family before my granddad went to Foundation. So I thought if I got in it would be the best place for me.”
Now that she is there, Keana is excited to begin studying the sciences, as she has dreams of one day entering the medical profession.
“The medical world is a strange place . . . I also like helping people so I really want to become a nurse,” she said.
As for her health, Keana reported that her leg is still improving and she still has some problems with her heart and lungs.
“Otherwise, I’m good,” she added.
And Keana had some words of advice for other children who might be going through a serious illness.
“You have to believe you can get through whatever it is you are going through. Just relax. Don’t think about it as much because if you think about it a lot it hurts more, it bothers you more and you ask yourself ‘why me, why am I in this situation?’ So just relax. And you also have to pray a lot and make sure that while relaxing you are still in touch with God,” the inspiring young lady said.
And as she reflected on her own journey, a tearful Keana thanked relatives who were her pillars of strength.
“I want to thank my family for helping me understand that what I went through is a good thing and for making me realize I was very strong during the process, and that as long as you believe in yourself, you can do anything,” she said, while wiping away tears.