Thursday, May 26, 2011

Reaching to Heaven Last Update on Riley Philpot

I have tried to keep everyone updated on Riley. Yesterday I had heard she passed away. I didn't want to post anything until I knew for sure. When I posted updates they came directly from her parents Kirk and Kelly Philpot via I would copy and paste. I know how easy it is for things to get twisted. The following is taken from The Daily Reflector, the local newspaper.

Cancer battle ends for Riley Philpot

The Daily Reflector

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Riley Philpot, whose brave fight against cancer drew a whole army of supporters, died Wednesday at her home in Winterville.

The 10-year-old was diagnosed with a Wilm's Tumor in May 2006. She and her family formed Riley's Army, an organization created in her name to provide support to children with cancer and their families in eastern North Carolina.

She was honored in November with the 2010 Youth Philanthropy Award by the Greater Greenville Community Foundation.

Her parents, both physicians, had hope early on that medical treatments would help the life-loving girl survive recurrences of the disease. It became clear about five weeks ago her cancer could not be medically fixed, her father, Kirk Philpot, said.

She had been home for two weeks, and on Wednesday was feeling well enough for her father to go to work.

Her mother, Kelly, was in the kitchen getting Riley pizza. Riley walked to the kitchen with her hands held up and her mother picked her up.

Riley collapsed in her arms, and she passed, Philpot said. “At that moment that she picked her up, so did Jesus. He swept her right up, too.”

The Philpots later were kneeling at Riley's bed where they had laid her. Her father looked up to see a favorite photo of Riley at ocean's edge with her arms lifted upward to the sky, he said.

Looking at the photo, he was able to imagine the last moment of love Riley shared with her mom, her father said.

“The thing about Riley is that even though she was sick, she never worried about herself,” Philpot said.

She would not want people to think of her as gone, he said.

“It's not that Riley was a beautiful girl, it's that Riley is a beautiful girl, and she loved life and she still does,” Philpot said. “She would make sure everyone knew that everything she loved about it, she still does.”

News of Riley's death spread quickly Wednesday. Friends of the family and children who were friends of Riley began to fill the Philpot's home in the Irish Creek subdivision.

Youngsters chattered in the background as Philpot spoke on the phone Wednesday afternoon. The family has two more daughters and a son.

Toni Tucker's family and the Philpots have been neighbors since Riley was 2. She said the families' children are like brothers and sisters.

“She's an amazing girl. She's inspirational. Riley wanted to make sure that everybody else was OK,” Tucker said. “She didn't want anyone to be sad. She wanted everyone to know that no matter what happened she was going to be OK.”

Riley's initial treatment in 2006 required surgery to remove her right kidney and six months of outpatient chemotherapy.

A routine follow up confirmed a relapse of her cancer with metastasis to her lungs in June 2007. Riley had been treated for her cancer with chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries and stem cell transplants. As of August 2010, she was facing her fourth relapse.

As she fought her disease, Riley and her army also fought to raise money to provide educational, financial and logistical services to other pediatric cancer patients and their families. The organization works to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and advocate for patient centered care.

The family decided “there was a profound need to take the willingness of so many of their friends and volunteers and turn that into a community-wide program that would provide individual support for families who also were fighting pediatric cancer, and all of the challenges that come along with that,” Community Foundation director Melissa Spain said when honoring Riley in November.

Riley's Army teams up with East Carolina University athletes and other community groups to raise funds for its efforts. Riley played soccer, so the organization worked closely with the Lady Pirates soccer team and Pitt-Greenville Soccer Association. It also works cooperatively with other nonprofits, such as the American Red Cross.

In March, the organization hosted the third annual Pediatric Cancer Survivor's Dinner in conjunction with Pitt County Relay For Life. The “kid-friendly” event gave families of pediatric cancer patients and survivors the opportunity to interact with each other and learn more about services and opportunities offered locally.

And, it hosts an annual picnic for past and present pediatric oncology patients and families.

Riley's Army is sponsoring a blood drive at the Red Cross donor center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 4.

Daily Reflector staff members Bobby Burns, Cherie Speller, Kim Grizzard and Ginger Livingston contributed to this report.

Arrangements are being handled by Wilkerson's Funeral Home and Crematory.

Riley Michelle Philpot May 25, 2011

Riley Michelle Philpot, 10, died Wednesday, May 25, 2011.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be conducted Monday at 11 am at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church. Burial will follow in Pinewood Memorial Park.

The family will receive friends Sunday from 5 to 8 pm at the church. A rosary will be said at 6 pm.

Memorial contributions may be made to Riley's Army Fund/GGCF, P.O. Box 720, Winterville, NC 28590.

Please continue to pray for this loving family!