Solving Kids' Cancer - every kid deserves to grow up

Learn | Our Inspiration | Penelope


“I don’t want anybody to ever feel yucky.”

Penelope was born a very healthy, beautiful, playful, extraordinary and happy baby.

Hindsight doesn’t give us the privilege of knowing where things went wrong. But they did. They went terribly, terribly wrong when she was diagnosed with a very rare form of pediatric cancer when she was 16 months old. Up until then there was absolutely no indication whatsoever that she was sick, not from the pediatricians’ perspective, nor from the keen eye of an experienced parent. It was like watching those television commercials about horrible diseases that strike other children, but you just know in your gut, and you thank God, that it will never happen to your child. But it did.

And that is all that will be said about her illness in this portion of the website -- that it can strike any child, at any time, and in the most surreptitious of ways. After all, this page is about Penelope, as she would have wanted it to be; not about her illness and subsequent death short of her 5th birthday. The illness did not define her; but her strength and courage during her life is what will drive and define the momentum to ultimately find a cure.

Penelope was the strongest life force we have ever felt. She practically glowed. No person was more radiant, beautiful, courageous, or loving. To know her was to have your soul penetrated by pure goodness. Life was her canvas for us to watch her display such joy and beauty; it was a wondrous rainbow of colors, life, determination, energy, intelligence, and love.

Penelope brightened every room she entered both with the sparkle in her eyes and the corners of her mouth that would always rise just so into that amazing smile that took over her face. Her thirst for life truly permeated her every move and engaged everyone around her. Whether it was putting on big girl make-up with her older sister Isabelle, or jumping the waves and riding bikes with her little brother Oliver, baking cupcakes and making whipped cream -- always insisting on licking the spoon. She just wanted to play, learn, have fun, and to be made to laugh. She taught us and everyone around her how to live life to its fullest, how to stay in the moment, and how to make the best of every single part of every day, even when she was feeling deeply “yucky.”

Our greatest gift is that we will forever be Penelope’s parents. Her nearly five years were a blessing, and in her short time, her smile, laugh, determination, and absolute love for life affected so many who came in contact with her or followed her story. Our inspiration for co-founding Solving Kids' Cancer belongs solely to our amazing daughter who once told us, "I don’t want anybody to ever feel yucky.” Our hope is to make her wish come true.