When she was just 16 years old, McKindree Patton was faced with an issue not many high schoolers ever contemplate: freezing her eggs.
The Arizona teenager, now 17, was diagnosed with a rare form of bone marrow failure when she was 12 years old. Last year, she decided to freeze her eggs before receiving chemotherapy treatment in conjunction with a bone marrow transplant.
According to the Mayo Clinic, cancer treatments can compromise fertility.
“Even though it’s hard to know what will happen in McKindree’s future, we wanted to make sure that she has the chance to have a family one day,” her mother Aimee Patton tells PEOPLE. “But it took me a while to feel okay with this decision.”
McKindree was already sick, and her mother didn’t want her to endure anything else.
“Her doctor told us that as her transplant got closer, this was an option she would have to take advantage of soon before it was too late,” the mother of four says. “McKindree was on board and we made it happen.”
The procedure and drugs cost $20,000, but Angel Mamas, a nonprofit group of mothers who help families with children facing life-threatening illnesses, helped raise funds to pay for the teen’s medical bills.
And the group couldn’t be prouder to help make the teen’s unique request a reality.
“We hadn’t had a request like that, but something about it obviously really touched us all,” founder Shira Nicks told Fox 10.
Although McKindree is sick and has spent most of the year in the hospital, she is still able to pay it forward.
Two years ago, she became friends with a girl who had recently moved to town and joined their church.
“McKindree would tell her about her illness and her ups and downs,” Patton says. “She came to our blood drives and was involved in helping out my daughter.”
Then in July, the friend who stuck by McKindree’s side was also admitted to the hospital for the exact same illness – bone marrow failure.
“It was unbelievable. What were the chances?” she says. “My daughter was then able to guide her friend to freeze her eggs as well, which happened two weeks ago.”
Patton practically lives at the hospital and rarely leaves her brave daughter’s side.
“The fact that McKindree did this gives me a purpose to keep fighting this battle. Her road has been so difficult and there have been so many complications,” she says. “But giving her the chance and the choice to one day not only live her life, but create a new life, is inspiring and keeps me strong.”
“She is the bravest woman I’ve ever known,” she adds. “I am so impressed, and I’m in awe of her strength.”