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By Zara Flores, for Dana Point Times
Kelsey Blackham, a young local woman in hospice for Stage 3 Hodgkin Lymphoma, was recently given the opportunity to meet one of her favorite bands, “5 Seconds of Summer.”
Blackham was diagnosed when she was 19 years old and was in remission for a month about six months after the initial diagnosis. Since then, it’s been a roller coaster of remission and relapse, she said.
Now, she’s living her days of hospice in comfort with her grandparents in Dana Point, where she’s lived since she was 13.
Blackham has always loved 5 Seconds of Summer and held onto their music when she was at her lowest and weakest point, connecting to their music and holding their lyrics near to her heart.
It was her ultimate dream to meet them. Michelle Wulfestieg, Executive Director of Southern California Hospice Foundation, was able to make it come true through SCHF’s Angel Assistance Program.
The Angel Assistance Program provides support and assistance to enhance the well-being of patients nearing end-of-life, from providing transportation to granting final wishes.
“All (services) are equally important, and all speak to the compassion and dignity we seek to provide,” said Wulfestieg.
On Wednesday, August 7, the band invited Kelsey, her sister, and two friends to their recording studio in Los Angeles for an exclusive rehearsal and private meet-and-greet. The girls got a sneak peek into their upcoming sets on for the United States leg of their world tour, as well as requesting songs for them to play.
“It was so surreal,” said Blackham. “It didn’t feel like it was happening, even though it was. They made me feel so comfortable, and they made me feel like I could be myself.”
5 Seconds of Summer provided all of Kelsey’s favorite food and snacks and the meet-and-greet, with the help of Wulfestieg, shared words of hope and encouragement, and signed merchandise and specialty items, including a Gibson guitar that was used during their rehearsal.
“I have witnessed what a strong connection she has to 5 Seconds of Summer. Their music reached her in a way that nobody else could,” Kelsey’s sister, Brittany, said. “During some of those really challenging times in her early 20s, when she felt no one could relate, when all her friends were off to college and dating boys, she was spending the majority of her time in the hospital receiving treatments; I’m grateful knowing there was an outlet for her to connect with.”
Blackham asked the band to write out her favorite lyric from their music—“It’s Gonna Get Better”—to remember the day.
“I have that quote they wrote hanging on my wall now. I do see it every day, and I do hope it’ll get better. It helps give me a positive outlook on life,” she said.