A Letter to My Sister, Kyra

by Branagh McMullan
April 24, 2014

Branagh is 16 years old and a three-time St. Baldrick’s shavee℠. Her sister, Kyra, passed away from a brain tumor at the age of 2.


Branagh’s sister, Kyra, who passed away from a brain tumor at the age of 2, two years before Branagh was born.

My sister was beautiful, bold, vibrant, and full of energy.

Or so I’m told.

She had the most gorgeous auburn hair, I hear. She was braver than any soldier who has ever lived with the grace of a thousand princesses, people say.

You see, I don’t know about any of this, and for a while I rejected any previous existence of this sister. But her name is Kyra. I know that now. She died from cancer in her brain that doctors say is rare.

Kyra was almost two years old when she died. I never knew my sister. I was born two years later.

People and doctors say lots of things that I don’t understand. They all talk about what kind of cancer she had, how rare it was, and how the doctors didn’t diagnose it right while she was alive. I don’t care. Doctors, and people who think that they’re doctors, can talk to me all they want about my sister’s statistics. I don’t care. She’s dead.

People who knew my family with my sister talk ever so fondly of all of them, and I love that. I love that they were loved, and I love that she was loved. But I hate how I could never love her. It isn’t a blessing that I never had to experience the grief of her loss. This is the story of how the terror of cancer doesn’t stop even when it’s over.

I have a little scar where my sister had her port implanted. I like to think that I have a part of her right there. Like soul sisters or something equally as mad. But this is all I’ve got.

I can’t imagine how hard it was to lose my sister. The people in my family are the strongest, toughest, and bravest people that I will ever know, and they were hurt. No one should hurt like that.

St. Baldrick’s is stopping that hurt. Research is what makes for an accurate diagnosis, which my sister never had. Research makes cures happen.

Research is expensive, so St. Baldrick’s funds it with the money we raise at head-shaving events. I’ve shaved my head twice now. I’m a teenage girl, and I regret none of this. Not one lock.


Branagh shaved with St. Baldrick’s for the third time last month, raising money for childhood cancer research in honor of her sister, Kyra.

I miss my sister terribly, and I love her even more. Cancer has hurt us and probably everyone you know. Let’s save kids. Let’s be heroes.

Kyra. Love you forever.


Branagh is still raising money for childhood cancer research. You can donate on her participant page.

Be a hero. Be a shavee.

Be a Shavee

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