Some may use the term princess to describe their little girl, while others see princesses on television and in royal families, but no one can be the one true, Princess Lillie Handley. Lillie is an eight-year-old little princess from Holly Pond, Alabama.
Lillie Handley was brought into this world on December 26th, 2012. The title of ‘Princess’ was immediate but not fully understood to the extent that her royalty has become.
In May 2016, Lillie was being treated for dehydration due to a stomach bug when doctors discovered a small tumor, Neuroblastoma. Doctors at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham decided it would be best to scan Lillies abdomen to check for appendicitis. Although appendicitis is rare for a child her age, it was not unheard of. Her appendix looked fine on the scan, and she was sent home until the day when her mother Kelly received a call that the doctors had found a spot above her right kidney. After several tests were performed, the doctors suggested that the family consult with an Oncologist.
The news of cancer was devastating to the family, but they knew they had to be strong for Lillie. Little did they know, Lillie’s Princess Strength, along with the strength from God, would be all they needed. Lillie started her chemotherapy immediately, and from that point forward, the Handley family’s lives were changed. Lillie has battled cancer for five out of the eight years of her life. After the third relapse, Children’s Hospital told the family there was little they could do for Lillie. So Kelly reached out to a specialist in Michigan named Dr. Giselle Sholler. Dr. Sholler reviewed Lillie’s files and wanted to see her in her office in four days. The family knew it would take a miracle from God to make it happen, and God’s plan was big. They were able to get the appointment cleared through the insurance company and make flight plans all during the Fourth of July holiday. Dr. Sholler and Lillie became the best of friends as soon as they met. Lillie continued treatment and went into remission in December of 2019. Unfortunately, the cancer would come back just a year later, in November of 2020. Prayers started pouring in for Princess Lillie, and God saw fit to keep her on this earth because her job was not finished. Dr. Sholler continued with a few more chemo treatments before putting her back on oral medications.
Four weeks ago, the Handley’s made a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, to see Dr. Sholler. Unfortunately, Lillie’s scan returned inconclusive, and the Handley family would face a decision no family should have to face. Kelly and John want nothing but the best for their princess, and they have always said that Lillie’s quality of life is most important. “If her disease is progressing more, we don’t want to continue to do chemo that would make her sick,” said Kelly. So the family chose to continue oral medication but not put her through more IV chemo.
The Handley family traveled back to Charlotte a week and a half ago for radiation simulation. While in Charlotte, Lillie suffered a seizure. Emergency responders were called in to assist with Lillie being unresponsive. Kelly said she rode with Lillie to the hospital while her husband John cared for their twin boys. The Handley’s feared the worse, and the news they would eventually be told was not what they wanted to hear. The doctors found small brain bleeds, along with two new lesions on her brain.
Lillie, Kelly, and her grandmother Cheryl were airlifted back to Children’s of Alabama while John traveled back to Holly Pond to care for Lillie’s twin brothers. Lillie was released from Children’s Hospital and placed on Hospice care. Dr. Sholler was unsure of how much more time Lillie would have on this earth. “Hopefully, she will have a few weeks,” said Sholler.
God will make the call when it is time for Lillie’s work to be done, but until then, the Handley family will cherish every opportunity they can with their real-life princess. At eight years old, Princess Lillie has made an impact on the Holly Pond and surrounding communities. Her strength has given other hope, and her smile has brightened days; her love has traveled far and wide. You see, there may be fairytale princesses on television, and there may even be people with the title ‘princess’ that live in royalty. But, a true princess has the power to change lives and bring love, hope, and joy to the world. Princess Lillie has accomplished every attribute that comes with the title. If only the world could see through the eyes of Lillie, we would all be in a better place.
Would you please continue to keep Princess Lillie and the entire Handley family in your thoughts and prayers? God will cure Lillie and take her pain and suffering away in His own time. Until then, she will continue to reign as a princess on earth. Once healed, Lillie will watch over the world with her princess wings.