Kim Olsen White has found a great friend in Dan Reynolds.
The two have been friends since 2007, when they met at a fireside for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. White is now a 26-year-old Utah wife and mother who is battling cancer. Reynolds is now the lead singer for the rock band Imagine Dragons, and he's using his fame to help his friend by putting on a benefit concert to raise money for White's medical bills.
“The best part of my career is to be able to do something to give back and to help,” Reynolds said. “I think anybody in that position to help should definitely take it because you feel like you’re part of something bigger than you, and it makes you see the world in a different way.”
Early on in Reynolds' career with Imagine Dragons, the band formed a charity called the Tyler Robinson Foundation, which is dedicated to a young friend who had died from cancer. Now, the band puts on benefits concerts and donates all the proceeds to the families in need.
“It goes towards the families and all the unforeseen costs that come with that beyond medical bills,” Reynolds said.
White was 18 weeks pregnant with her second child when her doctor found a cantaloupe-sized tumor on her kidney. In order to remove the tumor, the doctors had to deliver the baby, who did not survive. His parents named him Hinckley.
The results of the tumor revealed adrenocortical carcinoma, an aggressive form of cancer originating in the cortex of her adrenal gland.
Currently, White has stage two adrenocortical carcinoma.
White said the hardest part of the last six months has been the thought of her almost 2-year-old daughter, Hensleigh, growing up without a mom. When she was in the hospital for 11 days, White went 48 hours without seeing her daughter, a first for the two.
“Some of those days I was in the ICU, where kids can’t even come in,” White said. “I remember one night I was in the ICU and she was crying and screaming for her mom, but they couldn’t bring her in. It was definitely challenging.”
After her surgery, she wasn’t allowed to lift anything for six weeks, another challenge for the mother and daughter.
“I had to have a lot of help, but it was really hard because she’d want me to pick her up. She’d come to me and say, ‘Momma hold you,’ and I couldn’t pick her up,” White said.
White said she’s grateful her daughter is too young to remember most of what went on.
“She’s finally back to normal, but anytime I go to the hospital or anything like that, as soon as we walk in she’s scared. She knows the hospital is a bad place,” White said.
Currently, White takes four pills a day for her chemotherapy treatment, and so far, it’s going well.
“I still get a little nauseous sometimes, and the pills are supposed to make my body weak, but I’ve been exercising more and more to combat that,” White said. “I’m feeling very blessed that I’m doing well and I can take care of my daughter by myself again. I am able to live a normal life right now.”
White said her faith has played a huge role in coping with her illness.
The night Hinckley was born, her father and husband gave her a priesthood blessing. She felt comfort and peace that everything was going to be OK.
She also relies on prayers, scriptures and listening to Mormon Messages to keep her faith.
“There’s been many nights when I would pray to Heavenly Father and say, ‘I need a break. I need something to go well, ’ ” White said. “I believe that in the hardest trials, you receive the biggest blessing and the most tender mercies.
Throughout this trial, White’s family has rallied around her.
“I have a fabulous family,” White said. “My family and my husband, they’re my support.”
Although Hensleigh is less than 2 years old, she is White’s source of comfort.
“I look at her and she gives me a reason to fight and she gives me a reason to keep going,” White said. “Even though she’s little, on my hard days I’ll put my head on her lap and cry, and she’ll say, ‘Mommy sad! Mommy sad!’ She’s my everything.”
White has been overwhelmed by the support she’s received.
In addition to the benefit concert, White’s friend Mindy Anderson set up a Go Fund Me account in hopes of raising $10,000.
“I’ve already received so many donations from strangers who donate because they love Imagine Dragons,” White said. “It’s great to see the good in people and see them come together for a person they don’t even know.”
White said she’s had close friends text her and tell her they bought 20 tickets to the concert.
“The love people have for me is overwhelming,” White said. “I’ll probably cry a lot at the concert.”
Imagine Dragons is on tour in Europe, but Reynolds will fly to Utah on his own for the acoustic concert, which is July 17 at the Sandy Amphitheater.
Musical artists Joshua James and Timmy and the Teeth will also be playing.
General admissions tickets for the benefit concert can be purchased at http://smithstix.com/events/item/root/dan-reynolds.
“It’s always a little more emotional playing for someone in need,” Reynolds said. “It also can be a very uplifting, happy experience and that’s what we try to focus on.”
Reynolds said he’s astounded by the support.
“Kim is an incredible human being and deserves to have all the help she can get in the world,” Reynolds said. “Cancer is such an awful disease, and it’s great to see all these people come together to help the family out.”
Megan Marsden Christensen writes for the Faith and Family sections. She recently graduated from BYU-Idaho with a bachelor's degree in communication.