Kathleen’s Desk

Why Did This Child Live? [VIDEO]

by Kathleen Ruddy, CEO, St. Baldrick's Foundation
January 30, 2014

As I stood, frozen in place before my closet, I again asked myself, “What does one wear to a child’s funeral?”


I thought about the young man whose life we would celebrate, and chose purple, the color of half-mourning. It seemed right. Half of me is mad as hell that this beautiful soul has departed this life. My other half rejoices that Justin Miller is no longer suffering, and is now at peace. I am grateful Justin was sent to better us. It has been said that only the good die young, and this is certainly true of this ninja.

In the last weeks of Justin’s life, I found myself remembering the teachings of my friend, Susan, who long ago fought an epic battle with cancer. I’ve returned to her guidance each time we lose a child, which means, all the time. She believed suffering makes us more empathetic, unites us, and reminds us of what really matters. In short, it makes the rest of us better human beings.

Why should any child be required to play such a role? It makes no sense to me. But one thing I’ve learned is not to ask, “Why?” Instead I ask, “Why did this child live?”

One thing I’ve learned is not to ask, “Why?” Instead I ask, “Why did this child live?”

I believe every child with cancer becomes a teacher, and a guide to what is most important in life, and to how to live our lives. They show us how to live each moment, to laugh, sing, dance, and the simple joy of returning to school or a Cub Scout meeting, as well as the privilege of arguing with your siblings! Most of all, they inspire us to become the best version of ourselves.

Every child with cancer I’ve been honored to meet has taught me something unique, but all share one thing…the wish to be cancer-free.

The fulfillment of that wish requires each of us — whatever we have to give.

I’m shaving my head for Justin and every child fighting cancer today and tomorrow.

What will YOU do to make the future of every child possible?

Justin Miller – Wise Eyes from Dream Machine Creative on Vimeo.

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