As Childhood Cancer Awareness Month continues, Starlight is honored to share the stories of past Starlight kids that have benefitted from older programs.
Meet Starlight Alumni, Krysta, who was just 10 years old when she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. During her treatment, she was introduced to Starlight’s Starbright World—an online social network for sick teens to connect and build friendships with others that understood what they were going through and help them cope with their own diagnosis.
We checked in with Krysta to hear her story and share how Starbright World impacted her as she battled cancer.
Tell us about what it was like to be a child undergoing cancer treatment.
At age 10, I was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on my left kidney. I had to undergo chemo, radiation, and surgeries. I had my left kidney removed. It was terrifying being a child in such an adult world. I didn’t even truly understand what cancer was at that age. I had to grow up really fast and missed out on a lot. I am thankful to say that 18 years later, at 29 years old, I am cancer free!
How did your diagnoses impact your daily life?
I missed out on school dances, sleepovers, school, friendships. It was very hard for me. A lot of people I went to school with stopped talking to me and I couldn’t understand why. As an adult, I see that those kids my age just weren’t old enough to comprehend what was happening to me. I really turned to Starlight for support.
How did Starlight bring you happiness?
During the darkest times of my treatment, Starbright World was there. I could make friends who understood what I was going through and they could offer advice on how to feel better or we could vent together. I spent so much time laughing and chatting that, even for a moment, I would be able to forget that I was sick. The hosts in the chat rooms were personable and caring as well. I was able to visit the Starlight offices when I went on my Make-A-Wish trip to California. I will never forget the kindness all of Starlight gave me. I wouldn’t have had the hope I did during treatment without Starlight.
What would you say to a child going through a diagnosis to yours?
Just know that there are people out there who care about you. Everyone wants you to succeed, smile, and keep hope alive. Believe in yourself and love yourself—know that you are never alone.
Why are Starlight programs so important for children in the hospital?
Starlight is a one-of-a-kind organization, and their impact is immense. As a former Starlight Kid, I can say that having other things to focus on while in the hospital helps greatly. When a child can have a smile during a dark time, they start to have hope. Starlight instills hope into children, which is why Starlight’s donors are so important and make such a difference in the daily lives of seriously ill kids.
In 2021, about 10,500 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer. Starlight’s innovative and inspirational programs are designed to bring moments of joy to seriously ill children during the most difficult times—will you help Starlight deliver happiness to childhood cancer patients across the country?