It’s been a decade now since we started The Heroes Project, our way of celebrating survivorship and supporting the fight against cancer. Every year in this issue, we introduce a new group of survivors and tell their stories in print and online. Stories of courage, of hope and of remarkable resilience. There are well over 100 Gwinnett Magazine Heroes.
My diagnosis has taught me about being fearless and to just believe in God. Also, it has changed me by realizing how thankful I am, and to show it.
Looking for something light but inspirational to watch on TV? You might want to check out Karlyn Kilgore’s YouTube channel. Better yet, you’d do well to subscribe to it.
Karalyn is a creative and industrious eleven-year-old fifth-grader from Loganville who, since she was even younger, has dreamed of “owning my own little business in this cute little town.” Her business now is getting enough subscribers to her YouTube channel so that she can help her parents defray the cost of treatments for Karalyn’s Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with which she was diagnosed last September 11.
Broadcasting from her bedroom—sometimes bringing on friends and family as guests—Karalyn chats up her audience and answers questions from classmates, submitted on big, colorful index cards. “Do you miss school and do you miss us?” “What do you like to eat?” “What’s your favorite animal?” (“Yes.” “Yes, so much.” “Ice cream and fruit.” “Koala bears.”) But the most popular question may be: “How are you?”
“Right now,” says Karalyn, pausing to give it some thought, “I’m doing fine, yeah. But it’s only after chemo, like two or three days, I don’t feel that fine.” She describes the nausea and the need for bed rest, but assures her audience that once that’s passed, “I’m perfectly back to normal.”
Normal is a relative term for children like Karalyn, for whom an in-home tutor has replaced school with her classmates.
“I also can’t be around anybody that is sick because I can get sick really easy and have to go to the hospital. I just get scared a lot because I don’t like going to the hospital or smelling all the smells there.”
She knows, of course, that it’s just part of her life for this season and that others besides her family and her doctors care. “There’s like a thousand people praying for me to get better, too.”
She’s wearing a monitor now to gauge the effects of chemo on her heart. Then come more scans and the hope that the cancer is gone.
“The first time they scanned me it wasn’t all gone,” remembers Karalyn. “I hope that after all of that I am hopefully all done. I don’t want to think about not being done if they say I still have cancer.”
September 11 holds a great deal of significance for people across the country. For Karalyn, it was the day that life changed. “I was confused about a lot of the things the doctors were saying and I didn’t really know what I was going to go through.”
And now that she’s gone through it—and continues to do so—Karalyn sees life differently than most kids her age.
“I think God let me have cancer so my family could get closer. We had people we didn’t even know get us Christmas presents and help us. My diagnosis has taught me about being fearless and just believe in God. Also, it has changed me by realizing how thankful I am, and to show it.”
Karalyn’s story made possible by a grant from Gwinnett Family Dental Care
Thank you for helping us to share Karalyn’s inspirational story.
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