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July 25, 2015

Beverly girl battling cancer on 50-yard line for Taylor Swift concert
Boston Herald
by Laurel J. Sweet

An 8-year-old Beverly girl battling a rare nasal cancer has seats on the 50-yard line for tonight’s Taylor Swift concert at Gillete Stadium, and her family’s hoping the pop star takes notice.

“Please, if you can’t see us, at least mention Riley on stage,” the third-grader’s mom Kamie Fessenden appealed to the 25-year-old pop princess as she, husband Todd and Riley’s 9-year-old sister Meghan prepared to pile into the car and hit the road for Foxboro.

The Fessendens, who’ve had tickets to tonight’s sold-out “1989” show since Christmas, shouldn’t be hard to spot in Section 108. Kamie said they’ll all be wearing glow-in-the-dark T-shirts and Riley will be holding up a poster.

“She would go up on stage dance and with her,” Kamie said of “Smiley Riley,” who was diagnosed with Esthesioneuroblastoma in 2013 and last year missed 139 days of school due to the illness that has also cost her her hair.

Kamie has been trying to contact Swift’s camp through social media without any luck. She cautioned Riley the singer “is super busy. I told her we’ll do our best and if it doesn’t happen, we’ll just enjoy the concert. We love Taylor Swift. The CDs are constantly playing. She’s like America’s sweetheart. She’s just a really amazing role model for young women.”

Through music therapy, she said Riley’s favorite Swift hit became “Stay Stay Stay.”

“Riley is definitely so strong,” she said. “We call her Smiley Riley because she never complains. She’s just a happy go lucky kid. I always say that she’s our rock. She keeps us all grounded.”

Riley is a patient of Children’s Hospital, Dana Farber and Care Dimensions, formerly Hospice of the North Shore.

Her mother said Riley made it backstage at Swift’s 2013 concert at Gillette, but the Grammy Award winner wasn’t available to visit. The little girl did get to hang out with megastar Ed Sheeran.
*Staff photo by Patrick Whittemore


Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.