Why I Still Live in the Childhood Cancer World

by Kris Doyle
February 19, 2014

A parent of a childhood cancer survivor shares why she stays involved with St. Baldrick’s.

I have frequently been asked over the past couple of years — in a variety of creative ways — why I choose to still live in the cancer world, even though my son has remained cancer free for nearly 11 years. Some ask this with genuine curiosity, while others ask it with great concern.

And no matter which way the question is posed, I am left with the general understanding that at some point in the past 11 years, I am expected to have simply been grateful that my son’s life was spared, quietly walked away from the cancer world, and focused on going back to a life that should be far less distressing and depressing.

Why can’t I let go?

Is it true that what happened to my son — to my family — is no longer relevant now that we have reached some randomly dictated milestone with no evidence of disease? Even though my son was brutalized and maimed over and over again by people he should have been able to trust in order to ward off death, I am supposed to be grateful for our reprieve and simply forget about all the others who didn’t get the chance to bring their children home? Should I shrug my shoulders and just let the ones who have yet to face the nightmare walk blindly into the shadows?


Kris and her son after shaving their heads at a St. Baldrick’s event in 2013.

And then I remember. I remember what it was like to stand on that floor in the middle of the night, listening to the sounds of parents quietly crying in the corners of rooms no child should ever have to spend time in.

I remember doing the numbers silently in my head, understanding that statistically speaking, a certain number of children were going to die, and I remember praying that it wouldn’t be my child. And that was the worst feeling ever, because to me it felt like asking God to spare my child was the same thing as begging him to allow another to take his place.

Do you have any idea what that is like?

Well, let me tell you this: There is no walking away from that.

And even if I entertained the notion of walking away, who would fight for the kids yet to be diagnosed? Their parents have yet to begin caring, and by the time they do, it will most likely be far too late to make a difference.


Kris and her son at a St. Baldrick’s event in 2012.

The truth is, I remain where I am simply because there really is no hope for a cure if those of us who have been targeted by the disease walk away and allow it to have free reign. Cancer is the number one disease-related killer of children in the United States, and you need to know that by the end of this day — every day — 480 children around the world will be diagnosed with cancer.

And I ask you to understand that when I do talk about childhood cancer, it’s not because I want you to feel sorry for me, but because I want to do my part to help ensure there will never come a time when someone will need to feel sorry for you or someone you know and love.

So, will you join me on the sidelines and support me in my efforts to Conquer Childhood Cancer once and for all?

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Read more from Kris Doyle and her son, William: