A Lifetime of Laughter, Joy, and Love: Holden’s Story

by Miriam Gilkinson
November 6, 2014

Holden loved every minute of his almost-seven years of life. Now, his family and friends are raising money for childhood cancer research to help other kids like him. His mom, Miriam, tells his story.

Holden smiling

Holden was 3 when he was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a type of childhood cancer.

In September 2010 Holden got a sudden severe stomachache that progressed from “stomach bug” to “constipation” to what we later learned was a large Wilms tumor on his left kidney.

At first the oncologists told us, “If your child has to get a cancer, this is the best one,” though I would never put the words “best” and “cancer” in the same thought as my son. Pathology results later showed Holden had stage IV Wilms tumor with “diffuse anaplasia,” or “unfavorable histology.” The thumbnail sketch is that it is an all-or-nothing battle, and there is not a second chance if you don’t win with your first offense.

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‘Her Battle Was Transformational’: A Father’s Childhood Cancer Journey

by Peter Smith
October 21, 2014

Peter’s daughter Maddie was diagnosed with childhood cancer in February 2011. After a long journey of surgeries, chemo and radiation, the 4-year-old girl’s scans have been clean and her father has been profoundly changed by the experience. Peter explains.

Peter's daughter Maddie fought childhood cancer and finished treatment three years ago

Peter’s daughter Maddie fought childhood cancer and finished treatment three years ago. She has been declared NED or no evidence of disease.

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7 Shavees Share Their Shaving Stories [PHOTO ESSAY]

by Emily Kilpatrick, St. Baldrick's Foundation
September 10, 2014

Shave your head for kids with cancer. Be a shavee℠.


Photos courtesy of Matt Janson Photography. See more of his work at mattjanson.com.

Here at St. Baldrick’s, we have the privilege of seeing a lot of beautiful bald heads. Whether it’s a #baldselfie on Facebook or a collection of inspiring event photos, we know that each naked noggin represents something wonderful: more funds raised for lifesaving childhood cancer research.

At the same time, a head shaved for St. Baldrick’s is a bold symbol that our shavees stand behind kids with cancer, who so often lose their hair during cancer treatment. Shavees let these kids know that they are not alone, that they have a friend in the fight against childhood cancers.

Photographer Matt Janson captured the shavee spirit when he set up a portrait studio at the Grand Junction, Colorado, head-shaving event in June. His second year at the event, Matt said it was the shavees themselves that drew him to St. Baldrick’s for another year.

“I’ve never been a part of any group that’s been able to take something so painful and turn it into a day of love, support, and remembrance,” Matt said. “I can’t even begin to describe how infectiously positive everyone is at the event.”

Here’s a look at a few of Matt’s portraits along with a few words from the shavees about what it means to be a shavee and why they believe childhood cancer research is a cause worth losing hair over.

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Do What You Want

Tailgate Fundraiser for Childhood Cancer Research

by Avis Matsuda, St. Baldrick's Foundation
January 31, 2014

Celebrate a big game with a Do What You Want tailgate fundraiser.

In the town of Kirkwood, Missouri, high school football is a pretty big thing. Especially when the home team happens to be the reigning state champion. You just know it’s gonna be an exciting season!

Lisa Schmitz, a long time volunteer and supporter of St. Baldrick’s, knew that and wasted no time organizing a Do What You Want fundraiser for the Kirkwood High School home game.

Her plan? A tailgate party in the parking lot selling food and drinks to hungry football fans. She would promote it through the school as well as throughout the community. It was simple, easy, and she could get the food and drinks donated.

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Waiting Room Thoughts: A Glimpse Into the Future

by Krissy Gallagher
November 13, 2013


Austin is 7 years old and has been cancer free for over three years.

I snapped this picture of Austin yesterday in the waiting room, as I marveled at how much he’s grown since we first carried him into that space in an infant car seat.

This was the first time he could read the Scrabble tiles outside the waiting room doors, connecting words like head, neck, legs, and toe to Pediatric Radiology (what, no kidney?).

And there he sat, reading a book all by himself.

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Happy Birthday, Sara!

by Joe and Erin Martorano
October 8, 2013

Sara was diagnosed with stage 4 Wilms tumor in November 2008. Today she is celebrating her 9th birthday! Photos by Flashes of Hope.

She gives second chances.

She loves crispy bacon.

She doesn’t shy away from an audience.

She has a kind heart.

She likes glitz & sparkle.

She falls asleep at night in five seconds.

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Enough Big Moments

by Krissy Gallagher
May 24, 2013


Krissy Gallagher with son, Autin, St. Baldrick’s 2012 Ambassador, who was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a type of childhood cancer. Photos: Carman and Pugh Photography (www.carmanandpugh.com)

A few months ago, I happened to catch part of an interview on the radio with Willie Nelson. Must have been NPR or something, I don’t completely remember, but I do know that he was asked if he could recall the single greatest moment of his life.

He hemmed and hawed a bit and eventually settled on something great with a lowercase g, something mundane and everyday, like playing with his kids, or walking with his wife, or performing on a stage (everyday for him, at least).

Now, it’s likely that Willie Nelson simply can’t remember every hazy, blurred-by-pot moment of his life. But it’s also possible that sometimes the “best” moments are just moments, the simple everyday interactions with those we love: sitting on the porch with great friends eating delicious food, drinking wine and laughing til your stomach hurts. Or snuggling up in bed with your two sweet boys on a lazy Sunday morning. Or knowing, in a quiet easy sort of way, that you picked the right man with whom to spend the rest of your life.

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Lighting the Darkness

by Krissy Gallagher
December 20, 2012


2012 Ambassador Austin, right, with his older brother, Braedan.

My grandfather died on December 21, 1982. The shortest — and darkest — day of the year. Cancer, of course. My brothers and I drove with our dad from Cleveland to Massachusetts for the funeral, where my mom had been for the previous week. It was the first time we’d ever not spent Christmas in our own home, where my grandparents usually came to stay with us.

After the funeral service on Christmas Eve, my grandmother went to lie down and my brothers and I ended up in her basement, one of our favorite places in her house (we’d spent many vacations roller skating around and around on that smooth concrete floor). But this time we searched through her neatly stacked boxes until we found some labeled “Christmas.” We quietly lugged everything upstairs and by the time my grandmother awoke from her nap, we had decorated a small fake tree in the living room and hung stockings over the fireplace. Just because our Grampy was gone didn’t mean we had to give up Christmas!

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Kids with Cancer

Starting Kindergarten After Battling Childhood Cancer

by Krissy Gallagher
August 30, 2012

Austin, 5, Cancer Free

It’s that time of year again . . . the smell of freshly sharpened pencils in the air, the sound of school buses rolling down the street and the stack of paperwork for parents to fill out each evening. As I sit at my kitchen table completing the blue Who’s Eligible To Pick My Child Up From School form and the goldenrod Emergency Contact form and salmon Photo Release form, I am stopped in my tracks by the green Medical History form.

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Memory of the Summer Olympics (and Childhood Cancer)

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 15, 2012

By Erin Martorano, mother to Sara, St. Baldrick’s 2010 Ambassador Kid

I was feelin’ a little “off” earlier this week.

Not sick —

like something was not right.

I was in our kitchen making hair bows.

I was watching the Olympics on TV.

I felt nauseous with worry.

What is my problem?


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